When his son is gone, Wang is relieved to lose one of his problems and subsequently turns his attentions to his second son. Wang decides to take this son out of the sun and train him in the grain market so that he can have experience selling the harvests. Wang then sends Cuckoo to Liu the grain dealer to arrange a meeting, where he makes this request for his son to be apprenticed. Wang is ashamed of his country home, so he arranges to go to Liu's home in town. He is pleased that the home demonstrates good but not excessive living, since he is wary of a daughter-in-law too haughty to marry into his family. Wang is pleased to finally meet Liu, and the men share mutual respect for one another. When Wang inquires as to whether Liu requires a servant in the market, Liu accepts, since the boy can read and write. Before parting, Wang and Liu make the initial moves to marry Wang's second daughter to Liu's second son.
At home, Wang sees the nicely bound feet of his second daughter and he is proud of her beauty, but he notices that she has been crying. She tells him that she does not weep aloud because Wang is too weak to hear her pain so he might not force her to bind her feet. But then her husband will not love her, like Wang does not love O-lan. Wang is shocked to hear the child speak so nonchalantly about O-lan's feelings, but that night, he is extremely sad since though he had assumed O-lan was unintelligent, she had still seen the truth about him.
Wang sends Cuckoo to arrange the betrothal affair with Liu, and all is settled. Wang is now content that all his children are provided for, deciding that the youngest boy will remain on the land and not attend school. But his thoughts still remain on O-lan, who had been most faithful throughout their struggles. Her health has been declining so that Wang hears her groaning occasionally in pain. One evening, he sees her at her worst and hurries her into bed, but so pitiful is her moaning that Wang rushes to town to retrieve the doctor.
The doctor follows Wang home and diagnoses a multitude of ailments in O-lan. Wang is afraid at the news and demands medicine to cure O-lan. The doctor charges an exorbitant amount if Wang wants a guarantee of recovery, but Wang, fearful of death in the house, agrees readily to pay the large fee. However, the doctor, realizing the severity of O-lan's situation, knows that the guarantee is impossible and tells Wang that O-lan will die.
After the doctor leaves, Wang is overcome with emotion over O-lan, whom he had provided for but whom he had also poorly treated through the years, and he weeps in the kitchen where no one can see his tears.
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Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Chapter 2 and 3
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13