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East oI Eden

John Steinbeck
September 1952

Setting: 1862-1918 starting in Connecticut and Massachusetts and ending in Salinas Valley
Opening Line: 'The Salinas Valley is in Northern CaliIornia SigniIicance: States an important
Iact to help readers identiIy where the main setting oI the book is.
Closing Line: 'Timshel! He closed his eyes and he slept. SigniIicance: shows Cals last
moments with his Iather. Adam tells Cal the Hebrew word Ior 'thou mayest telling Cal that his
Iate is up to him and that he can live a happy liIe without the burden oI his brother`s death and
unlike in the bible where Cain killed Abel and lived in sin, Cal with his understanding oI his
Iathers last words can choose his path in liIe.

Plot Summary
O Sam Hamilton settles down in the Salinas Valley in northern CaliIornia, a Iertile place, but
unIortunately Ior Sam his land is the most unIertile in the area, so he makes a living helping
people out in the area. He has 9 children with his wiIe Liza who is very strict and religious
unlike Sam who is Iun and happy and the people oI Salinas like him.
O Adam Trask is born in 1862 and soon aIter his Iather goes to war and loses his leg and
comes back. His mother dies so His Iather has to remarry and Irom that marriage Adam gets
a halI brother, Charles. Their Iather became obsessed with the war he lost his leg to and
researched it and studied it until he became an expert in all things war like, so he told stories
oI the war and became a sort oI charlatan oI the Civil War, lying about being at ever major
battle and knowing every detail un thus became very important in politics and living a lie.
O Adam is sent to the army by his Iather to learn discipline aIter Charles almost kills him,
because oI this, Charles becomes jealous oI Adam while staying at home thinking that their
Iather preIerred Adam to him. Adam Iights in the Indian Campaigns but reIuses to kill
anyone. AIter his time in the army he becomes a hobo and goes to jail and walks across the
O Adams Iather dies leaving the boys over $100,000 in inheritance that the boys are to share
evenly. At the same time in the book we learn about Cathy, a terrible human being and the
only character in a book that I`ve ever hated. She is described by the author as a monster, she
kills her parents and takes their money and runs oII to be a prostitute who manipulates men
to get whatever she wants. This all backIires at one point and she gets assaulted by one oI the
men she manipulated and ends up bloodied at the Trask Iarm. Adam Ialls in love with Cathy
even though she is unconscious Ior most oI the time she is at their house, but Charles hates
her because he can sense her evil. Blinded by his love Ior her he wants to marry her and
seeing a chance to manipulate another innocent soul Ior her beneIit. Charles does not
approve oI this because he hates her, but they end up getting married and that night Cathy
sleeps with Charles
O The new Trask Family moves to the Salinas Valley and buys the best land in the area with
Adam`s dad`s inheritance. Cathy Iinds out that she is pregnant with twins so she tries to
abort them herselI and just ends up hurting herselI more. Adam tries to Iix up the house that
be bought so that he can please Cathy. Adam beIriends many oI the locals and especially
Sam Hamilton who helps him with most oI his questions.
O We learn about Olivia Hamilton`s WWI Liberty bond winnings and her being deathly aIraid
oI airplanes. Adam is happy with his liIe in CaliIornia and he hires Lee as his Chinese
servant and cook, Lee also sees Cathy`s evil. Sam meets Lee and gets to know him to a point
where Lee drops his Pidgin English and talks without an accent.
O Cathy goes into labor, and Lee goes out to get the help oI Sam to deliver the children, but
when Sam goes to prepare Cathy she bites him and he bleeds a lot. When he gets her calmed
down the labor process is really simple with her and she has twins. They don`t name the
children yet. AIter a Iew weeks when Cathy is recovered she is getting ready to leave when
Adam walks in on her, tries to hold her back and then gets shot in the shoulder with a .44
magnum and Ialls to the ground in a pool oI blood as Cathy leaves.
O Cathy runs oII to a brothel run by Faye. When being questioned by the sheriII Adam Iinds
out the truth behind Cathy being a prostitute, and to keep the twins saIe he keeps all this
inIormation away Irom the public, the sheriII then talks to Cathy about the children and the
agreement made with Adam. Cathy is a good prostitute; but she becomes close to Faye and
because oI this Faye wants her to quit, but Cathy says she needs money. Later Faye puts
Cathy into her will and in celebrating Cathy gets drunk and bad things happen, but through
her cunning wickedness Cathy tricks Faye into believing she was helping. They get closer
while Cathy slowly poisons Faye. Faye dies, Cathy wins.
O Adam is still depressed aIter Cathy`s departure so depressed that he hasn`t named his
children. Sam sees this as a huge issue (it is) so he makes it his mission to get the boys
named. Because oI Adam`s mental state Sam had to resort to punching him and getting his
mind in its place. They get to it, and read the Bible; they discuss the story oI Cain and Abel
(which the twins eventually replay). They settle on Caleb and Aaron the child who cried got
the name that was cried at.
O Sam is grieI-stricken with the death oI his daughter and starts aging. He goes to talk to Adam
and realizes that Caleb and Aron (dropped the a`) are a lot like Cain and Abel. Adam, Lee,
and Sam discuss the meaning oI 9280` the word Irom god to Cain aIter Abel dies. Lee
realized that it was translated diIIerent ways and thus meant diIIerent things so he Iound the
real meaning oI 'thou mayest completely shattering all prior meaning oI the story. Later,
Sam dies oI old age and when Adam goes to the city aIter his Iuneral he goes to visit Cathy`s
brothel, and sees how terrible she is and stops loving her and goes back home. When he goes
home he buys a car.
O Now the story oI the Boys start, the two meet Abra and Aron likes her, then Adam moves to
the city and the kids start going to real school and start showing their strengths and
weaknesses, Aron and Abra get closer and start dating while Caleb just sticks with his
studies. Adam has a terrible vegetable reIrigeration investment issue and looses most oI his
money. Caleb wants to help to get money again. Fortunately Ior them they gets inheritance
Irom Adam`s brother who died. Aron goes to college, Caleb makes money while Arons
away, when he has the money Aron comes back Caleb gives Adam $15k but he rejects it.
Caleb gets mad and introduces Aron to Cathy and he runs away to the army. Caleb and Abra
get close Aron dies in WWI and then Adam dies.

Adam Trask is one oI the main characters oI the book. He is the Iather oI the twins. In his youth
he lived the Iirst instance oI the Cain and Abel story oI the book. He is very lucky when it comes
to getting money but he is also easily played by Cathy. I Ieel sorry Ior him Ior having Iallen Ior
her but I think he is a good well rounded character.
O " believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible,
with huge heads or tiny bodies. . . . And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic
monsters born? Here Steinbeck is talking about Cathy, introducing her as a monster but
explaining why she isn`t like our normal perception oI monsters. He is using a rhetorical
question because he answers this later on by showing us Cathy and showing us the monster
that she really is.
O "Don't you see? . . . The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you call sin
ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph
over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel'Thou mayest'that gives a choice. t might be the most
important word in the world. That says the way is open. This here is about the scene where the three
men are discussing the Cain and Abel story and the most important part, I think, is when Lee
brings up timshel. I Ieel like this is the most important part because it oI the explanation that
Lee gives, it gives man the choice oI overcoming sin. Adam tells Caleb timshel on his death
bed aIter knowing that he caused Aron`s death but giving him the choice oI overcoming
what has happened.
O "Son, 'd be happy if you'd give me something like your brother's given me. Something honest and
human and good. Don't be angry, Son. f you want to give me a present, give me a good life. That's
something could value.. Here it is like what God said to Cain that made him want to kill Abel,
in this situation its making Cal want to kill Aron. It brings up the second occaision oI the
cain and abel reoccurrence in the book and thus driving the plot to its end when Arons liIe
O "Yes, memory. Without that, time would be unarmed against us. This thought Irom Lee is one
that I think speaks volumes. Hes saying that it is because oI memorys that we want to relive
thepast, memorys that make us treasuer time. In the book it is said to console Adam because
oI the passing oI his brother and makes him cherish the memorys that he had oI him.
O Adam asked, "Do you know where your brother is?
"No, don't, said Cal. . . .
"He hasn't been home for two nights. Where is he?
"How do know? said Cal. "Am supposed to look after him? this is another echo oI the Cain and abel
story, which is a reccuring MotiI in this novel, one that is actually stated on the back oI the
book. Ive said pretty much everything I can think about about this topic, it`s a big part oI the

Symbols/ Recurring motiIs
O The Cain and Abel story It pretty much is the whole book it reoccurs in both generations oI
the Trask Iamily Iirst with Charles and Adam and then with Caleb and Aron. As can be seen
both sets oI brothers have names starting with C and A, and their rivalry Iuels most oI the
O Charles`s scar- with Cain and Abel, Cain received a marking because oI what he did to Abel,
in the same sense Charles almost killed Adam and received a scar in an accident thus very
similar to the original story.

Mankind has a choice to overcome sin and evil.