Compare and contrast essay.docx - Khan 1 Simrah Khan Ms...

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Khan 1 Simrah Khan Ms. Watson AP Lang, Period 1 10 February 2017 East of the Bean Trees The search for self-identity is a vital tribulation many must experience in their lifetime. While the search itself is not elementary, the discovery of one’s identity, in turn, leads them to nirvana. In John Steinbeck’s controversial novel, East of Eden , Steinbeck argues through three generations of characters the inescapable destiny following the struggle for self-identity and actualization. Likewise, In Barbara Kingsolver’s light-hearted novel, The Bean Trees , Kingsolver argues the rewards following the struggle for self-identity and actualization. Both novels were written in two drastically different settings yet ultimately explain the search for self-identity. Both Steinbeck and Kingsolver use their own personal experiences coupled with chronological organization and opposing structure to depict the search of self-identity. Steinbeck incorporates his personal life experiences with his characters to authenticate the struggle for self-identity and actualization. To illustrate his personal relation to his characters, he incorporates his childhood and adulthood within his novel. Steinbeck was born and raised near “a long narrowed swale between two ranges of mountains, [...] [where] the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into Monterey Bay” (Steinbeck 3). The Salinas Valley serves as the basis of almost all of Steinbeck’s novels as it was the basis for most of his life. The later setting of East of Eden is a rural town with some of the most fertile lands in the whole valley, where the Trask family lives, is similar to where Steinbeck grew up. Through most of his characters, Steinbeck relives his life as a young man who spent most of his summers on
Khan 2 ranch lands working with immigrant workers, some of which made appearances in various novels. In East of Eden , the twin’s caretaker Lee was a migrant worker from China who devoted his life to helping Adam raise these children he seems to have been stuck with. Aron, Caleb, and Cathy appear to be representations of Steinbeck’s life with his second wife Gwyn Conger. Their marriage was short lived lasting from 1943 until the two divorced in 1948. Although the details of their marriage are not documented nonetheless the short period they were together they had two children Thomas and John Steinbeck IV. Thomas and John’s lives are similar to those of Aron and Caleb, however, neither of them were old enough to fulfill most of the things their characters did. Although they are not complete parallels the similarities remain, for instance, Aron Trask goes to Stanford and is drafted in the Army, Thomas Steinbeck attended the California Institute of the Arts and University of California Los Angeles and served in the Vietnam war as a helicopter door gunner (Wikipedia). Caleb does not attend college instead he grows beans on the farm and ships them to the soldiers at war, much like his father who tried to send lettuce across the country. Similarly, John IV did not attend college and similar to his father

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