Writing a review of East of Eden is a little pointless. You might as well write a review of chocolate or the blue sky; it is deliciously, unanimously perfect.
This story follows several characters as they struggle with the choice to be good or evil.
We meet Adam and Charles Trask, two very different brothers competing for the love of their father. Adam presents his father with a stray dog while Charles fails to impress anyone with his hard-earned present of an expensive knife. The jealousy festers inside him for his whole life, and the need to be loved by his father turns him violent against Adam. Cain and Able metaphors abound–their names even start with A and C.
Adam, who embodies goodness, grows up to marry the evil Cathy Ames, who bears him twin sons, then shoots him and leaves. Adam, who loved Cathy dearly, is cared for by his dear friends Lee, a wise Chinese servant, and Samuel Hamilton, a neighboring farmer.
The twins grow into boys and eventually, into young men. As they grow, they too struggle, and Caleb becomes jealous of his angelic brother Aron.
Salinas Valley becomes the picturesque backdrop for this biblical conflict, and Steinbeck weaves in pieces of his own childhood with mother Olive. About East of Eden, Steinbeck says:
“I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.”
Go read it. Before the movie remake with Jennifer Lawrence. Just so that in the theater you can go, “Well in the book, it happened this way…” It really is that good, and also it’s really, really fun to be that person and just annoy everyone.
Whats your take on East of Eden? Have you seen the 1955 James Dean movie?
P.S. I’m in the market for a poolside read! Suggestions?