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Everyone's used to the South now. Wang Lung's used to his job, the kids are used to begging, and everyone is used to being poor. The only thing is, none of them really know what's going on inside of the city. Somewhere in there, rich people are doing rich people things, but Wang Lung can't even imagine what they could be.
The South is really different from Wang Lung's hometown, and he feels like he just doesn't belong. At least he feels this way until he pulls a white woman from America on his rickshaw and is so scared that he nearly collapses from exhaustion after running. After that, he kind of gets that there are people who are a little bit stranger than he is in this town.
Okay. So Wang Lung is working all day for, like, a penny. And his family uses that to eat their only meal of the day. And there are weird foreigners. But, hey, at least they've got food. Right?
Well, the kids are turning into thieves, and it doesn't look like they'll make enough money to get out of the South anytime soon. Wang Lung is starting to worry that he'll never get out of this big city and back to his little farm.
The last straw is when the younger son comes home with a stolen piece of pork. That's it. Wang Lung can't handle it: they've got to go back.