Literature Study GuidesEast Of EdenPart 2 Chapters 18 20 Summary

East of Eden | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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East of Eden | Part 2, Chapters 18–20 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 18

Horace Quinn, the deputy sheriff, comes to the Trask house to question Adam about the shooting, but Adam won't reveal Cathy shot him until Horace threatens to jail him. Horace's friend Julius Euskadi accompanies him out of curiosity and is deputized to stay with Adam until Horace can get information from the sheriff. The sheriff tells him a brothel called Faye's has a new prostitute, Kate, who matches the description Adam has given Horace, including the scar on her forehead. The sheriff swears Horace to secrecy to keep Cal and Aron from hearing about their mother, and Kate is protected from prosecution to keep the incident quiet.

Part 2, Chapter 19

Kate, as Cathy now calls herself, has become the most popular prostitute at Faye's, brothels being a quietly accepted aspect of life in the valley. By acting kindly toward Faye, she also has weaseled her way into making Faye treat her like a daughter. Kate lies to Faye about her background, and Faye can't understand why Kate, who looks like an innocent child, is so popular.

Part 2, Chapter 20

Kate calls Faye Mother, and her manipulations pay off, as Faye gives Kate her will, with everything signed over to Kate, as a present. However, Kate makes the mistake of celebrating and getting drunk with Faye, insulting her and revealing the sadomasochistic acts Kate performs for extra money. Kate recovers before revealing too much and immediately drugs the horrified Faye, remains with her until she wakes up the next morning, convinced—by Kate—that what she heard was part of a nightmare. Kate is once again behaving kindly toward Faye, and nothing seems changed.

Analysis

Adam, whose father did a poor job keeping his son safe and knowing what he needed, is now surrounded by father figures. Lee is taking care of him, and Horace Quinn steps in to find out what happened, unwilling to let Adam cover for Cathy. Deputizing Julius Euskadi to stay with Adam is the act of a father figure, ensuring a son's well being. The sheriff, too, protects Adam and his sons by not allowing Horace to spread the news about who Cathy is and where she now works. But Cathy, too, benefits. Bearing her scar, the mark of Cain, on her forehead, she is protected from harm or retribution.

Furthermore, Faye is trying to mother Kate and is doing well at it. However, Kate is playing her role even better so that Faye has no suspicions that Kate is a deadly enemy. Kate's plan has many steps and takes a long time, but Kate is patient and discreet. She confides in no one and performs superficially good deeds to mask her evil.

The theme of inheritance surfaces as Kate, with her hard work and good deeds, manipulates Faye into loving her as a daughter. Kate is so convincing that Faye falls for her to the point of willing everything she owns to Kate. But as patient as she is, Kate is too evil to wait for old age to take its course with Faye. She has other plans, which are momentarily derailed by her getting drunk and abusing Faye, but she recovers quickly and covers her tracks well.

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