Many cultural changes are taking place throughout China as the final book in "The Good Earth" trilogy follows Wang Yuan, son of Wang the Tiger, through his early adult years. After defying his father, Yuan goes to the coastal city to live with his half-sister and her mother, feeling part of a family for the first time since he was a toddler. An admirer persuades him to join his cousin's revolutionary cell, but later betrays him because he cannot return her affections. His family's wealth rescues him from execution, and permits him to avoid further immediate danger by studying abroad. Though troubled by his outsider status in a foreign country, he learns much, reconnects with his love for the land, and befriends a young woman. Returning home, he struggles to reconcile his memories with the reality which greets him, just as the populace is struggling to reconcile the old ways with the new. In his touching final reunion with his father, he discovers the key to his own survival.