Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck|
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Back at the hotel where Cyrus lived, Adam noticed that everyone treated his father as if he were a very powerful man. When they got to his room, Cyrus took off his leg, and Adam began to feel that his father was himself again. He immediately regained the "childhood fear and respect and animosity" towards his father. When Cyrus asked Adam why he re-enlisted, he explained that he did not want to go home. Cyrus said he could get him into West Point, but Adam refused the offer. When Cyrus suggested that he get Adam an assignment in Washington, Adam said he wanted to go back to his regiment. Cyrus looked hurt and disappointed and said the army had ruined Adam, teaching him the "dumb resistance of a soldier." Adam asked why Cyrus had not brought Charles to Washington. He answered that Charles was better off on the farm.
Charles looked forward to Adamís return. He hired an old woman to clean the house and ignored her grumbling about the pig-like qualities of men who live in filth. While she cleaned, Charles stayed in the barn. After she finished cleaning, Charles stayed on in the barn because he did not want to dirty the house before Adam returned. When Cyrus told Charles that Adam had re-enlisted and would not be coming home, Charles was disappointed. He moved back into the house, living in "savage filth," and worked the land with vigor. He also began to keep one woman after another in the house. The neighbors tolerated him because the farm was very well run.
After a year, Adam wrote a contrite letter of explanation to Charles. Charles did respond. Adam wrote four more letters before he heard from his brother. Once they began to correspond, they had little to say in their letters, for they had grown apart.
In this chapter, Steinbeck places the Trask men in their varied destinies: Adam in the army, Cyrus in public life, and Charles on the farm. It is clear that Charles missed Adam, for he thought about their youth with a nostalgia that erased all the ugliness of his rivalry with his brother. He also was eager for Adam to return to the farm and was very disappointed to learn that he had re-enlisted instead of coming home. To make certain that the reader does not feel sympathetic toward the lonely and isolated Charles, the narrator recalls how Charles brutalized Adam earlier in the book.
The narrator also ensures that the reader will not feel too much pity for Charles by giving him slovenly and immoral traits. In contrast, the author builds sympathy for Adam. His displacement as a soldier, his inability to find a place for himself outside the service, his continued fear of his father, and his steady statements of what he wants when his father tries to bully him make him an object of the readerís respect.
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. 09 May 2017