Buck, many themes are illustrated throughout the story. Some of these themes include filial piety, poverty, and relationships. The most important of these themes is the relationships between man and earth. The good earth has provided Wang Lung and his family with life. Life includes food, shelter, and wealth. Wang Lung and his family depend on the earth to survive because it provides everything they need.
The earth provides food for Wang Lung and his family. Wang Lung is trying to prepare a feast for his wedding. Instead of buying some of the ingredients, he just takes some that he planted by himself. "And a little beef to stew with the cabbage he had raised in his own garden." (pg. 7) This quote shows that Wang Lung grows his cabbage in his own garden. In order for this cabbage to grow, you would need dirt or the earth. Because the earth causes the cabbage to grow, it is providing Wang Lung with food. When Wang Lung takes the cabbage from his own garden, it is much cheaper than buying it. Another example is when they had a period of drought. Wand Lung could not get anything to grow. Without water or rain, the earth is dry and hard and when this happens, the plants cannot get the nourishment they need and they do not grow or die. In addition, even if the earth has water, if the soil is not rich enough the plants would grow badly or not grow at all. This shows how much they depend on the earth and if the earth did not bear vegetation, they would die of hunger.
The earth, besides providing food, also provides shelter and everyday items. The house that Wang Lung and his family lives in is made of earth or clay. "The kitchen was made of earthen bricks as the house was." (pg. 2) Wood was expensive back then so they had to use clay to build houses. Without clay, Wang Lung would not have a means of shelter and would have to sleep under the stars or on the ground. Wang Lung's oven, built of clay or dirt, was made by his grandfather.