Chapter 2 and 3
The next morning, Wang wakes and instructs his wife to bring his father some hot water. While she is gone, he wonders if she even likes him. He is nervous to reveal the true financial situation of their house, which he knows is a stark contrast from what O-lan is used to in the House of Hwang. As she tends to his father, Wang feels his first impressions of idleness. Wang thinks back to the previous evening, and he is pleased.
When O-lan returns, she hands him a cup of tea. Wang had asked her to bring his father only plain hot water, but O-lan is quick to explain that she obeyed his instructions, only bringing Wang and not his father the tea. Hearing this, he is satisfied that his woman does like him.
A few months pass and the family is getting along. O-lan is a wonderful housekeeper and manages to build fires without having to buy fuel. She also collects animal droppings from the main road to serve as fertilizer for the fields. The house, in her hands, is washed and mended from wall to wall. Wang observes his wife, curious as to why she does not often speak, but he is ashamed of his curiosity since she is only a woman.
O-lan even assists Wang in the fields, when there is nothing left in the house to which to attend. Together, they strain in the fields, on the land that remains even after men and their houses and families disappear. One day, she announces to Wang Lung that she is pregnant. Wang Lung is thrilled, as is the old man upon hearing the news. Wang is bursting with pride - that from his own body emerges life.
As the date of the imminent birth nears, Wang Lung suggests that O-lan get a friend to help her deliver the baby. O-lan refuses, and when Wang Lung presses the issue and suggests old friends from the House of Hwang, O-lan forcefully asserts that she will return to that house for no reason but to show off her first-born child in all his rich attire. Wang Lung is shocked that the normally reserved woman has said so much and no longer pursues the discussion. He offers her money to purchase materials to make their child look presentable to the Hwangs.
One day in the fields, O-lan suddenly stops working and tells Wang that the time for birth has arrived. She instructs him to stay away from her except to bring her a newly peeled reed to cut the umbilical cord. When the labor begins, O-lan is strong and delivers the child on her own. (She even stopped in the middle of her labor to prepare dinner for Wang and his father!) Wang is nervous but his father tells him not to trouble himself.
Wang waits apprehensively, and hearing a child's cry, he rushes to inquire about O-lan and the baby. He is ecstatic to learn that the child is a boy, as is his grandfather. Eagerly, he awaits the next morning when he can head into town and boast about his good fortune.
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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