Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Wang Lung’s farmhouse. Rural farmhouse that is the scene of most of the novel. The house is located in Wang village, described as composed of only a half dozen households, within an hour or so walk of an unnamed walled administrative town in the inland province of Anhui. The changes the farmhouse undergoes closely mirror the fortunes of Wang Lung and his family. Wang Lung toils daily in the fields and has a deep attachment to the land–the “good earth” of the title. In famine he lets the house go into disrepair and sells the household goods but will not sell his land. A multitude of trials face the family and threaten the farmhouse, but both survive. In prosperity, Wang Lung buys additional land and improves his house.
The house first appears as a run-down three-room, earthen-floored structure made of mud-and-straw bricks with a thatched roof in which Wang Lung and his widowed father live. When a wife, O-lan, joins the household, the interior of the house improves through her skill and hard work. Additions to the house come as the frugal and hard-working family members raise themselves up. These improvements include sheds for animals and a room in which laborers reside. Eventually a tile-roofed, brick-floored addition is built for Wang Lung’s secondary wife, Lotus. The house sits above the high-water marks of the frequent floods and so both the house and Wang Lung’s family survive flooding.
Hwang family mansion (wang). Walled compound located in an unnamed walled administrative city in Anhui that has its own imposing gates. The unnamed city is probably Nansuzhou (now known as Suxian), in northern Anhui, where Buck lived from 1917 through 1919. Wang Lung’s wife, O-lan, comes to him from the Hwang mansion where she grew up as a harshly treated orphan kitchen servant. In the course of the novel, Hwang family members dissipate the family fortune and eventually sell land to Wang Lung. The Hwang mansion falls into ruins, leaving only a servant or two living in its collapsing courtyards. In his greatest period of prosperity, after O-lan’s death, Wang Lung purchases the property. Now a great extended Chinese family, the Wangs move into the refurbished mansion, where Wang Lung falls heir to some of the same excesses and faults of the Hwang family. He can never find peace in the mansion and prefers his modest farmhouse.
City in Jiangsu (Kiangsu) province. Unnamed city to which Wang Lung and his young family flee by train during a famine in Anhui. There they live in a “little village of sheds clinging to the wall.” Country folk who are never comfortable with city life, they eke out a living through Wang Lung’s work as a rickshaw puller. O-lan and the children beg on the streets. After Wang Lung comes into some money by chance, the family immediately return to their farmhouse and land. Although never named, this city is clearly modeled on Nanjing (Nanking).