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You thought you knew O-lan, didn't you? Yeah, well, so did Wang Lung. What he didn't know, and what we didn't know, is that she is way smarter than she looks.
One day, Wang Lung finds out that O-lan has a bunch of gems hidden in her clothing. He's so stupefied that he has no idea what to do.
O-lan tells him that she found the jewels when everyone was rushing into the great house. Because she used to live in a great house, she knew what to look for. Wang Lung decides that they have to sell the jewels, but he gets a surprise.
O-lan wants to keep some of them. She's been one of the most rational characters in the whole book, but suddenly she wants something frivolous. We get why Wang Lung is shocked. In the end, he lets her choose some jewels, and she chooses two pearls.
Now for the rest of the jewels: Wang Lung makes his way down to—you guessed it—the House of Hwang. Only everything is a little different this time. The door is locked, there are no servants around, and the old Lord even says that they have no money.
Still, Wang Lung has some business to do. It's only the old Lord and some random lady left in the House of Hwang, so he has to do business with her. The lady tells him everything that happened: how bandits stormed into the house, how they tortured the old Lord, how the old Mistress died of fright, and how she started to rule the roost.
After a while, Wang Lung gets the gist. But he still doesn't feel right doing business with this lady. Then he gets to thinking, "Serves the House of Hwang right for leaving their land!"
So he finally does it. Wang Lung buys all the land of the House of Hwang.