Skip to content

East Wind: West Wind – Pearl S Buck

December 13, 2006

East Wind West WindEast Wind: West Wind is the first book by Pearl Buck – written in her twenties. It is an easy read. This book is an very good example of her style – simple writing. She describes mundane things and does not unnecessarily analyze the actions of the characters.

The book gives a good introduction to the Chinese way of life. The story is told from the eyes of a traditional Chinese girl, Kwei-lan, married to a Chinese man, a medical doctor, educated abroad. The story is a monolog told to a lady by Kwei-lan. The lady is addressed as – “Sister”. This sister is apparently a foreigner who has lived all her life in China; much like Pearl S Buck herself. Kwei-lan considers that “sister” is as Chinese as she herself is.

The story is about Kwei-lan, opening up to freedom and points of view of the western world. She is brought up with the belief that western people do dark magic and are uncivilized. Her mother tells Kwei, since god divided the east and the west with a sea in between, it is not right to mix with westerners and go against god’s wishes. When Kwei gets married to a man, to who she was betrothed even before her birth, she discovers that he is not what she expects. He does not take interest in her initially. But, when her mother-in-law is rude to Kwei, her husband moves out from his parents’ courts with her into a modern house.

The part of the story where Kwei observes and ponders over the features of the new house is very intriguing. She wonders why they first make a hole in the wall, cover it with glass and then hang curtains over it – they could just cover the holes with colored paper – like they do in traditional Chinese houses. With her bound feet, she finds it difficult to go up and down the stairs. Later, she lets her husband unbind her feet. Then, they start bonding. She begins to believe her husband is a wise man. Also, she discovers how easily she is able to go up and down the stairs with unbound feet.

When a son is born to her, she fears that she will have to part with him once he grows a little older, since he belongs to her husband’s family. When her husband stands up for their son and refuses to part with him, she first thinks, he is being selfish and not fulfilling his responsibilities towards his parents – but then, approves of it.

Kwei-lan’s brother, who studies in America, marries an American lady, Mary. They come back to China to convince his parents to accept their marriage. Kwei speaks to her mother on her brother’s behalf. But her mother would not give in. Kwei’s father is good to Mary and bonds with her but does not accept her into the family. Kwei’s parents ask her brother to give money to Mary and send her back. They want him to marry his betrothed, the daughter of the house of Li’s. He is yet to fulfill his responsibility of giving them a Son. Kwei’s mother wants her son’s first son to be born out of a Chinese woman and fears Mary might get pregnant. This comes true and Mary is pregnant with their first child.

In the climax, Kwei-lan’s mother dies of heartbreak because, her son would not leave the American and marry his betrothed. His Father threatens to disinherit him if he does not marry his betrothed. Eventually, both her brother and his wife, Mary leave the house courts and move out. Kwei’s brother makes the sacrifice of his family and home for Mary and Mary makes the sacrifice of her country. Kwei-lan and her husband are humbled by such love. A Son is born and ties the east and the west together.

Pearl Buck takes the reader thru the journey of Kwei-lan in a way that is exotic. At each point, Kwei compares the traditional Chinese way of doing things with what her husband says is the western way to do the same. Slowly, she learns to live with a balance of what she finds good in the western way of life and the eastern (Chinese) way of life.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2007 11:48 pm

    I am curently writting a critical review of Pearl’s books. East Wind: West Wind was my assigned book. I loved it! It really showed how old and new cultures must blend together to create an intricate society. I love how it showed that men and women should be equal in marriage as well as life. I would like to say again how much I loved this book…Simply amazing!

  2. May 21, 2009 6:26 am

    Nice information:) will come back..

  3. Norma Welty permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:44 am

    I read Buck’s novels, East wind, West Wind and The Good
    Earth when I was about 12 years old in 1935. Now that I’ve read a plot summary of them, I’m amazed The Good Earth was allowed in my school library–with all the opium use and Wang Lung’s apparent sexual appetites/relationships.
    I was brought up in the fringe of the Bible Belt. Do you think I read an abridged version of the story? I not aware there were abridged books for minors then.

  4. Maria Siquina permalink
    August 8, 2011 10:31 am

    Ms. bucks way of writing is so mundane that its east to get lost in a book of hers for hours. with this novel i found a more insight look into what a traditional Chinese woman is tught . like how showing too much affections for ones husband is unseemly and how a man is brought up to think the world is his oyster. it so sad , but the book that truely brought forth emotion from me is The Good Earth and how Yu Wang was such a chauvinistic dick to his ugly duckling of a wife

  5. June 10, 2014 2:05 pm

    Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

    • June 23, 2014 3:42 pm

      First off, Thank you for the appreciation! Please feel free to share the link to the blog!


  1. Pre AP World History week of April 19th | Biddy's Class Blog - Go Warriors!!
  2. books by pearl buck | Book info
  3. East Wind: West Wind | Get News, Articles and other Informations
  4. » East Wind: West Wind

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: