Sunday, July 13, 2008

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden is the story of the Trask family. It's centered on Adam but it includes his father and his sons. Cyrus was injured early in the Civil War. But over time he convinces everyone, even himself, that he had a glorious military career. He eventually winds up in a DC cabinet position. And he forces his youngest son, Adam, into the army.

After the army, Adam returns to his Connecticut home which is being run by his brother Charles. The two do not get along. Charles has always resented Cyrus' favoritism of Adam. One day a young girl shows up at their door. She has been beaten to a pulp. Adam takes it upon himself to nurse her back to health.

Cathy is a bad seed. She murdered and robbed her parents. She then took a turn as a prostitute. Her pimp beat her and left her for dead. But Adam builds a picture in his head that has no basis in reality. He marries her and takes her to California. She doesn't want to go but Adam doesn't hear her.

After they settle in the Salinas Valley, Cathy gives birth to twins. But she has no interest in being a wife and mother. She shoots Adam and leaves to work in a brothel in a nearby town. Adam is left to raise the twins with the help of his Chinese servant.

East of Eden is about the struggle between good and evil within all people. Adam's son Cal has a dark side that he struggles against. It's the same side that his mother embraced.

I enjoyed this book. But out of the four Steinbeck's I've read it only ranks third.

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