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For the first time, the family has learned to appreciate O-lan. Now that she's bedridden, everyone realizes that she's the one been keeping the house running, and no one else knows how to do it.
Now that she is about to die, O-lan isn't so quiet anymore: she talks about her past, and we realize that she has always felt unloved, and her life has been very, very difficult.
O-lan also tells Cuckoo how much she hates her to her face. She even says that she will curse Cuckoo and Lotus if they ever touch her things. She demands that her daughter-in-law come to help with the New Year celebrations.
Then, finally, she demands that her son come home to get married and have children.
Looks like it's time for a shotgun wedding. The oldest son hurries home, and Cuckoo and Lotus get the bride ready for a fancy rush wedding.
When it is all over, O-lan reminds everyone that she is more awesome than Lotus, and then she dies. A few days later, Grandpa dies. The family goes into mourning, and they bury both O-lan and Grandpa on a lucky day.
After everyone has left, Wang Lung stands by the graves alone. He cries because he should have been nicer to O-lan, and because he has buried the two people who have known him the longest.