East of Eden


1. “Charles had one great quality. He was never sorry - ever. He never mentioned the beating, apparently never thought of it again. But Adam made very sure that he didn’t win again – at anything. He had always felt the danger in his brother, but now he understood that he must never win unless he was prepared to kill Charles. Charles was not sorry. He had very simply fulfilled himself. (30)”


After Adam beats Charles in a game of peewee, the only thing Adam ever won; Charles beat Adam with a bat until Adam lay unconscious. Showing no remorse for beating his brother, Charles simply walked away. Such an action shows the malice that Charles had, as well as his underdeveloped conscious. Charles probably saw his brother’s winning as Adam trying to destroy the only way Charles had of gaining his father’s affection, and thus attacked him for it. Unlike most people, who would be sorry for their actions, Charles felt completely justified in his deeds. As a result of the beating, Adam made sure to never win anything against his brother, which probably gave Adam a low self-esteem. Just as well, the ill-feelings the children had probably only pushed Adam to moving California even more, wanting to get away from the house of his awful childhood.


2. “Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms he could never miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be like to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a man born without a conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. (95)”


Before introducing Cathy, Steinbeck writes about monsters, going into detail of monsters without a conscience. By staring off the chapter as such, Steinbeck is able to imply to the reader that Cathy would be such a monster. Without a doubt Cathy does seem evil, and by using the word “monster,” instead of another word, such as impaired or handicapped, Steinbeck creates in the reader’s mind a horrifying picture a Cathy. If Steinbeck chose to use a word like impaired, the reader may feel sorry for Cathy, for the main idea portrayed would be that she should be pitied because she was born with something lacking. However, using monster suggests that Cathy was a horrible and mean girl, who she indeed was, but such a picture would not have been so quickly painted if it were not for Steinbeck’s word choice. Also significant is that while Steinbeck goes into detail turning Cathy into a monster, he does not mention the frightened little girl who needed to use “Drink me” to get away from all of her troubles. Instead, Steinbeck saves those details until Cathy is near her end, so that the reader feels less sympathy for Cathy and sees her as a true Monster.


3. “And this I would fight for: the freedom of mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a patter must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which by inspection can destroy a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beast. If the glory can be killed, we are lost. (172)”


Steinbeck uses these words as he talks of how the world is changing as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Steinbeck points out the evil of