John Steinbeck’s “East Of Eden”

I was introduced to Steinbeck’s writing through “Cannery Row”, a book that I got as a birthday gift. After that I have read many of his books and I have always found myself getting surprised and fascinated by his writing. I read “East of Eden” long time ago and I really do not remember the whole of story now. But there are certain things from the book that have remained with me through all these years.

“East of Eden” has a biblical reference and is considered a place to which “Cain” chose to flee after murdering his brother “Abel”. Steinbeck has taken that as the basis of the book and has built a story around it.

The concept that has remained with me is related to what happens when a child goes through various stages while growing up. In the beginning, for a child, everything done by parents is right. The child learns from parents and parents have all the answers for their kids. At some point though, the child will realize that parents do not have all the answers and it is not necessary that they are always right. That moment in child’s life can be very difficult because one most important pillar of his own thoughts and values is broken at that time. At that stage, the child is most vulnerable because he or she starts looking out for some other inspiration or hero in life and depending upon who becomes the hero, the life of child can take a different turn. Before I read the book, I had never looked at this idea but after reading it in the book, it seems so natural.

This book is truly a literary masterpiece not only in terms of scope of story but also provoking to talk about moral and ethical values, right and wrong and how the most important thing in life is the ability to Choose.

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6 Comments

Filed under Fiction

6 responses to “John Steinbeck’s “East Of Eden”

  1. kberke

    You’ll see, from my comment at roughly a quarter of the way through, that I’m a bit disappointed particularly with the credibility of the characters. I’d be interested to know your thoughts if you re-read the book now.

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  2. kberke

    I’m just starting a re-read of East of Eden. I read it perhaps 40 years ago. I’m not sure what’s drawn me back to it, except perhaps nothing else compelling to read (that I know of) at the moment.
    Earlier today I read several early chapter. All of that history of the land seems to announce a creation theme, which, until I read your blog, I didn’t connect with the Bible. Instead, I was thinking that the author was using a tasteful device to introduce the first-person narrator. Instead of the narrator saying, for example, that his family had lived in Salinas Valley for generations, he stated something to the effect, When my grandfather first came here . . .. I also see in these early pages many contrasts–floods and droughts; good years and bad years; lazy people and industrious people; even good mountains and bad mountains. Surely Steinbeck is foreshadowing good and evil.

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    • pkg

      yes you are very right. I have felt that it was his best work. I also read it long time back but some memories have remained with me. I guess I should also read it again.

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