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East of Eden | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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East of Eden | Infographic

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about John Steinbeck's East of Eden. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

east-of-eden-john-steinbeckNarrator, Chapter 34 ll novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. Sources: East of Eden: Steinbecks proclamation of human greatnessby DavidStewart McCright, Encyclopaedia Britannica, IMDb, A John Steinbeck Encyclopediaedited by Brian Railsback and Michael J. Meyer,, Steinbeck Quarterly Copyright © 2017 Course Hero, Inc.East of Edenby the NumbersCharacters with the same name as Steinbecks mother and father: Olive and John Ernst, the narrators mother and fatherGenerations of the Cain and Abel story in the novel—Cyrus and Alice, Charles andAdam, and Cal and AronOscar nominations for the 1955 film adaptation starring James DeanAmount Cal offers Adam; when he refuses it, Cal burns the money instead$15,000234Unlike his works like The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbecks East of Eden does not focus on the plight of laborers. Instead, it uses biblical allegory to explore family relationships. His familiarity with Salinas, where he was born, is clear in his novel about life in the valley.JOHN STEINBECK1902–68AuthorThemesGood vs. EvilThe tension between good andbad characteristics makes characters feel fated to oneside or the other—until theyrealize they can choose. RejectionAs fathers reject gifts fromtheir sons, they model Godsbiblical rejection of Cainsgifts, leading to bitterness,fear, and misunderstanding. InheritanceBoth money and charactertraits are passed from one generation to the next. TimshelTranslated thou mayest,”the Hebrew word offers achoice to characters who feel trapped by their genetics.Cain & AbelIn the biblical story, Cain isrejected and marked, while Abel receives acceptance—a storythat runs throughout the novel. Father-Son RelationshipsThe strained connections between generations in the Trask family mirror God-human relationships, while Samuel parallels Abraham. MotifsSet from the 1860s through World War I, East of Eden explores good and evil as they affect generations of characters who mirror the biblical Cain and Abel. Adam and Charles battle for their fathers approval, a patternthat repeats when Adam has his own twin boys in the Salinas Valley in California. Despite this, there is hope they can escape destiny.Am I MyBrothersKeeper?MAIN CHARACTERSAronAbelSmart, educated son; joins army when he learns of his mothers prostitution CalCainMoody, unfavored son; feels trapped in evilbut chooses good LeeWise, faithful housekeeper and cook; helps raiseCal and Aron Charles TraskCainScarred, brutal man; mistreats his brotherbut makes amendsAdam TraskAbel, then AdamSingle father and determined farmer;favors Aron but blesses Cal on his deathbedCathyCain/EveShoots husband and flees motherhood for a brothel; commits suicideSamuel HamiltonBiblical patriarchLongtime counselorto Adam and patriarchof Hamilton familyHALF-BROTHERSFRIENDSSERVANTFATHERBROTHERSMARRIEDJohn Steinbeck1952EnglishNovel AuthorYear PublishedOriginal LanguageEast of EdenDrama

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