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As predicted, harvests are not going so well this year. No rain means no crops. But somehow, Wang Lung has managed to sell something, and guess what he's going to do with the money? That's correct: he's going to buy more of the land from the House of Hwang.
Apparently things are getting worse over at the House of Hwang, what with the bad harvest, the old lady's opium habit, and the concubines. So they are more than happy to sell.
Months pass by, and there's still no rain. Soon there is no food, and O-lan says they should eat the ox. Wang Lung doesn't want to eat the ox, because it's just like a friend to him. Grandpa tells Wang Lung that it's easier to buy an ox than to buy life, and it's time to have some ox dinner.
As usual, Wang Lung's uncle is the first farmer to go hungry. He comes to Wang Lung over and over again to get some food, but eventually Wang Lung gets tired of his uncle and kicks him out. So his uncle starts spreading rumors around town about how rich he is.
Let's keep in mind that this is the community of farmers who haven't had the harvest and can't eat. You can guess what happens.
The whole town comes in a raging mob to steal all of Wang Lung's food and money. But—news flash—he doesn't have any.
The hungry mob even starts trying to take Wang Lung's furniture, but O-lan isn't having that. She gives another one of her rare long speeches, and everyone puts everything back.
Wang Lung is pretty freaked out about the riot, but thinking about his land makes everything feel better. At least they can't take that from him.