Boekverslag : Pearl Buck - The Mother
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The mother; third volume in The good earth Trilogy. This trilogy consists of three books: The good earth, Sons and the Mother, all written by Pearl S. Buck. The title refers to the central character in this novel which is the mother.


First published in 1934. This edition was published in 1993 by Moyer Bell in Wakefield, Rhode Island or London, United Kingdom.

Style of narration and place of story

The style of writing is simple and very strong prose and the novel is written in the third form (he, she, the mother, the daughter, the father etc.). The characters have no name, but are called ' the mother ', ' the father ', ' eldest son ', ' youngest son' and ' the daughter'. It is a regional novel situated somewhere in the countryside of China before the Chinese revolution. The farmers were poorand still worked mostly to pay taxes. only a small amount of the cropp they can keep.


Pearl Sydenstriker Buck is the author. She was born in 1892 in West Virginia and taken to China as an infant before the turn of the century. She was the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries. The family lived in a town in the interior of China instead of the traditional missionary posts. She grew up speaking Chinese as well as English and she got most of her education from her mother. She did her university studies at Cornell and taught English literature in several Chinese universities. In 1932 she was forced to leave China in relation with the Chinese revolution.

She wrote fifty-three books and has been awarded the Pullitzer Prize, the William Dean Howells Award and the Nobel Prize for literature.She was the first American woman to receive a Nobel Prize. Pearl died in 1973.

Personal view on this book

The mother is a very moving story told in a very strong and simple style. The characters are very strongly described. The simplicity of style is what makes the story and it's character emotionally strong and very moving.

Pearl S.Buck has the talent to make one crawl into the shoes of different Chinese characters and customs without making them sound strange.

The book makes you cry sometimes, like when she sees her youngest son being hanged and she could do nothing at all for him. Another strong part is when she brought back her blind daughter which was married to a poor farmer (' being blind as she was and no farmer ever considered her worthy of marriage' ) who was beaten and killed by this farmer. She brought her back on a donkey.


The mother by Pearl S. Buck is a novel that takes place in a little peasant village somewhere in China. It is a poor peasant village where everybody is related to each other in a far way. The central characters are the Chinese mother, her two sons and her daughter.

The mother is working the land together with her husband. She is a hard worker, but her husband is a little bit iddle. He is a very handsome man, who likes to sit around doing nothing and dress pretty and not live a hard life as a peasant. The city nearby attracts him greatly and after the mother made him some new clothes for him, as blue as the sky he disappeared and never returned to the village agian. The mother had a hard time concealing that in fact her husband abandoned her. It would have been a great scandal. So each year she goes to town to a writer and she lets him writes letters to her in the name of this husband. So every year a letter from the husband to his wife arrives in the village and the mother can held her head up. She never told the village the real story, namely that the husband left for good to live in the city.

But she is still a young vigorous woman and one day she laid down with a taxman and from this reunion came a child. But being pregnant when the husband never came back could be a real scandal so she had to abort in private. This she did with the help of her cousin's wife. Since the abortion she was not the same again as she lost her strenght.

She was in constant battle with her oldest son. Even though this son was working very hard and does all the hard work in the fields she was not content with him. He does all the hard labour and even does not let his mother do hard work. But still her mother did not love this son as much as the youngest son. For the oldest son never spoke a word and the mother never knew what he thought. She even thought that he had no wishes or desires, that he was merely a farmer.

The youngest son on the other hand was a beautifull man to see and he liked the pleasures of life just like his father. She was always protecting this young son against the attacks of the oldest son. The oldest son was of the opinion that the youngest was lazy and rarely does his share of the work in the fields. So they argue a lot and sometimes as the oldest would reach out his hand to strike the youngest son the mother would throw herself at the feet of her oldest son asking him to spare her young son. Then the mother would feel guilty for loving this young son. As she saw the resentment of the oldest growing one day she proposes that she would ask and pay a matchmaker so that she could give him a wife.

One day after a heavy argument with the oldest one the youngest one left the house to live in the city. There he joined a group of revolutionaries, which were organizing themselves in the cities and growing stronger. There the youngest son learned to read and write. He also became an activist and one day he came in secret to his mother's house and asked her to hide some things for him. The mother thought that he was a robber, involved in robbing people and that he had asked her to hide some furs for him. In fact when she confided in the eldest son and opened the furs they contained a lot of books. She said books who showed the devil itself at war.

Then came the news from a neighbour that he had seen this youngest son as one of the priseners who are going to be hanged that afternoon. The mother thought that if she bribed the guards maybe she could free him. So they sold most part of their land in order to free this son, but it was to no avail. They said the crime he commited was so big that they could not free him for no amount of money. So the mother saw how her youngest son was hanged and this broke her down completely.
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