Guo, Yiqin
University of Macau

c/o Prof. Ren Shaozeng
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
University of Macau
Macau (Via Hongkong)

fshszr@UMACMR2.UMAC.MO [Ren Shaozeng]

Strand: discourse English

Title: How does Buck Convey Her Meaning in The Good Earth

The Good Earth, written by Pearl Buck in 1932, won her immediate recognition and the Pullitzer Prize, and later the Nobel Prize for her faithful portrayal of Chinese society in the early years of this century.

As a text the novel reflects the context in which it is embedded.

The context first of all finds expression in the use of words, some of which form lexical chains and proposition chains that run through the text. The chains interrelate and interact with each other. For instance the "Wang Lung" chain interacts with a number of verb chains, outlining the dramatic life story of the protagonist. The chain-interactions embody Macro Themes, which, in their turn, constitute the Global Theme.

However, as the context is so complicated, a linear narrative structure cannot adequately reflect it. This is usually the case with novels. The discourse structure must necessarily consist of several levels, at each of which one major aspect of the context is presented.

In The Good Earth three levels are found, dealing respectively with Wang Lung, the protagonist; land, the focus of narration; and the society, which throws light on the social and cultural significance of what is presented at the first two levels. The levels are sematically related, and the interrelations are realized lexico-grammatically in a fairly systematic manner. For instance the word "land" the central item at the second level in most cases appears in the Rheme of a message, while the Theme of the message is usually "Wang Lung", the central item of the first level, thus relating these two levels. Without such a multi-level structure, reflection of social context in its entirety is out of the question.