Analysis Of John Steinbeck's East Of Eden

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John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden, contains primarily caucasian characters from the Trask or Hamilton families, with Lee being the only developed main-character that is a Chinese immigrant. Lee is a servant for the Trasks, but he shares his intellect with several characters within the novel, as a guide or teacher. While the general stereotype of a Chinese immigrant pervades Steinbeck’s work, Lee develops a method for Steinbeck to discuss the individuality of these immigrants and their place in the American society of the Salinas Valley from 1900 to 1917 through his dialogue with Samuel Hamilton and his role in the Trask household. Through Lee’s interactions with other Chinese immigrants, Steinbeck constructs a stereotype for these immigrants…show more content…
With an interaction with Samuel, Lee explains that he does not really belong in China, “They wouldn’t have me. You can believe it or not—I’m less foreign here than I was in China” (164). While this revelation is heartbreaking, it reveals something that is true for all of the Chinese immigrants in Salinas Valley. The fact that Lee is Chinese-American, begs the idea that the labels of nationalities are weakening as he could not be accepted in Chinese society. Steinbeck is showing the near homelessness of the immigrants of the time period. With Lee’s use of pidgin in order to be understood, Steinbeck is also showing that Chinese immigrants must do certain things to be understood and accepted. Lee also alludes to the fact that he will never be fully accepted, “ … I, who was born in Grass Valley, went to school and several years to the University of California, have no chance of mixing” (164). This reveals the fact that Chinese immigrants will never be fully accepted or integrated in the culture. However, he emphasizes Lee’s importance to the Trasks, “For a time Lee tried to stimulate Adam to awareness, but Lee was a busy man. He cooked and washed, he bathed the twins and fed them” (252). Lee is an integral part of the household, cooking, cleaning, and raising the children. Similar to the Trasks’ reliance on Lee, the American society is reliant on Chinese immigrants, whether they accept it or not. Lee is Steinbeck’s method of opposing the stereotype he brings the reader’s attention to and develops by other Chinese

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