East of Eden

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by makajean
Last updated 7 years ago

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East of Eden

"'What did you do on his birthday? You think I didn't see? Did you send six bits or even four bits? You bought him a mongrel pup you picked up in the woodlot. You laughed like a fool and said it would make a great bird dog. That dog sleeps in his room. He plays with it while he's reading. He's got it all trained. And where's the knife? 'Thanks,' he said, just 'Thanks''" (Steinbeck 3.4).

"Adam knew that his brother was no longer dangerous. There was no jealousy to drive him. The whole weight of his father was on him, but it was his father and no one could take his father away from him" (Steinbeck 7.3).

A major theme throughout East of Eden is the competition for a father's love. The biblical story of Cain and Abel is mirrored by Charles and Adam and their father Cyrus. Charles is jealous of the fact that Cyrus seems to love Adam more, even though he works more to make him happy, just as Cain believed God loved Abel more for the sacrifice of his lamb. In East of Eden Charles beats Adam out of jealousy in an attempt to kill him, resembling Cain killing Abel in a jealous rage.

At this point, Adam realizes that Charles never hated him but resented their father. This is a turning point in the story as Adam now feels free to do as he pleases because now that their father is dead, Charles does not have a reason to be jealous and Adam no longer has to be afraid of Charles.

"'He liked everything you brought him. He didn't like me. He didn't like anything I gave him. Remember the present it gave him, the pocket knife? I cut and sold a load of wood to get that knife. Well, he didn't even take it to Washington with him. It's in the bureau right now. And you gave him a pup. It didn't cost you a thing. Well, I'll show you a picture of that pup. It was at his funeral. A colonel was holding it- it was blind, couldn't walk. They shot it after the funeral.' 'I loved him,' said Charles. And for the first time that Adam could remember, Charles began to cry" (Steinbeck 7.3).

Charles brings up his jealousy for Adam with the story about their father's birthday again. However, this time Charles does not appear to be angry at Adam, but saddened at the fact that Cyrus liked Adam more than him. He realizes that it is not Adam's fault, Cyrus just favored Adam more.

East of Eden

John Steinbeck

Makenna Leatherwood


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