East Of Eden Literary Analysis

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Shivani Kavuluru Mrs. Chan Ap Literature 11 September 2014 Second Times the Charm Some may believe that the apple does not fall from the tree. That identity is an innate characteristic. In other words, each of us attains an identity from the time we are born; however, like the scholar Thomas Merton once said, “Identity is much more that a name or feature we are born with”. The concept of identity is pervasive throughout John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden. At the inception of his novel Steinbeck seems to push two generations of brothers into what seems to be inescapable mold of Cain and Able. Although the first generation of brothers namely, Charles and Adam are unable to escape their fate, Adams son, Cal learns that one's true identity…show more content…
Steinbeck depicts the hatred of the brothers from the eve of novel by introducing concepts of jealousy and manipulation between them. Their rivalry is further aggravated when their father, Cyrus Trask favors Adams puppy over Charles self-brandished knife for a gift. In no time, Adam could “hear his brother panting with a quick and explosive breath of a sledge hammer”. Charles nearly kills his brother just as Cain kills his brother in the original tale from the Bible. Steinbeck represents Charles as Cain when he states that “a dark mark was present on his forehead”, this parallel heightens the fact that Adam is Able and Charles is Cain. Just like in the Bible, Charles never truly atones for his sins by making the right choices and thereby dies alone on his farm. Adam on the other hand was depicted as “one who could do no wrong”; however, the biggest flaw in his character is his failure to choose to accept the truth. Throughout the novel, Adam is constantly either aggrandizing Cathy a whore who simply manipulates him or glorifying reality to a point where he even neglects to choose to name his own kids. His despair with reality and his lack of judgment to choose the right path ensure that he too dies stuck in what seems to the inevitable…show more content…
When Lee, Adams servant states that “thou mayest rule over sin”, he is preaching the teaching of choice. This idea of choice so ubiquitous that towards the end of the novel when Cal has chosen the righteous path to good ,his father mutters a final blessing which seemed to “hang in the air” as he whispers Timshel. In this final moment of the novel, Steinbeck proves that unlike the story of Cain and Able one is never truly trapped in a mold of good or evil, but rather owns the choice to choose their own

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