East of Eden by John Steinbeck
East of Eden is the kind of book you want to reread almost as quickly as you turn the last page. Very few of the characters are loveable, perhaps with the exception of Lee, but they are nonetheless very intriguing.
The plot line following Adam and his brother Charles Trask gives us a natural pity for Adam, we love him like a wounded puppy dog and we root for his success.
From the moment Cathy Ames burns down her house, killing her parents, we know she is a bad egg and will leave nothing but destruction in her path. Cathy was the very essence of the devil living on earth.
Samuel Hamilton is our parental guide. He is good and strong, and understanding. As we live through this story along with the characters we only hope Adam will become like Samuel.
We all need wisdom and knowledge. Some of us find it from books, others look to people. Lee was the wisdom the Trask family needed. Unfortunately they didn’t always follow his wise counsel but from the outside we couldn’t help seeing how well Lee saw and understood the situation.
Caleb and Aron; like most children, give us a much needed spark of hope. We know where they came from, and therefore we worry about where they might go. But we don’t quit hoping they will figure out what will make them happy.
I love the overall theme of our ability to choose our morality. Lee teaches Adam about Timshel, which is Hebrew for “thou mayest” as they debate whether mankind is compelled to pursue sainthood or is doomed to sin. Lee is convinced we have the power to choose.
Overall I loved East of Eden. There were a few parts that seemed a bit wordy and I was tempted to skip over the tangents and rush back to the story line but the illustrations, characters, moral conundrums, and emotional dilemmas were all very thought provoking.
*I rate my books in 5 categories on a scale from 1-5 with 5 being the highest.
Historical Value- 2
Emotional Value- 4
Entertainment Value- 3
Personal Character Value- 4
Age recommendation- 16+
“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
“All great and precious things are lonely.”
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.”
“People like you to be something, preferably what they are.”
“But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed.”
“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal.”
“A man without words is a man without thought.”
“A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief.”
“Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.”
-The story of Cain and Abel is told twice (Charles and Adam, Cal and Aron)
-Symbols: Charles’ Scar (mark of Cain), The Valley of Salinas (The Garden of Eden)