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Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES


CHAPTER 22


Summary


Part 1

Adam continued to withdraw into himself on the abandoned farm. Lee cared for the twins and tried unsuccessfully to interest Adam in life. Samuel also tried to get Adam out of his depression, but Liza objected to his going to the Trask place. She said he always came home depressed himself.

Samuel and Liza were growing old and missing the company of their sons. Joe was attending Stanford University; Tom was totally absorbed in books; and Will and George were successful businessmen. After straining his back one day, Samuel went into town to see Dr. Tilson and to visit Will. In town, he saw Lee, and they went to have a drink. Lee told Samuel that Adam was very depressed and had not even named the twins. He begged Samuel to help. Samuel told him he would visit Adam the next day.


Part2

When Samuel told Liza he was going to visit Adam, he thought she would object; instead, she urged her husband to be hard on Adam to jolt him out of his depression.


Part 3

When Samuel found Adam moping outside, he scolded him severely for not naming his sons or doing anything productive. When Adam got mad, Samuel hit him. Adam told Samuel he was glad he had come even if he had hit and cursed him. Lee prepared dinner. While the three of them ate, they talked about names. Samuel also asked questions about the shooting. Adam said that Cathy had not intended to kill him, but wounded him as an annoyance. Adam also admitted that he was worried that his sons would be evil like their mother. Samuel said the boys would be fine if Adam did not plant evil in them. Adam looked at the boys and suddenly saw his brother Charles in one of them. He exclaimed over the likeness. They then discussed the differences in the boys.

Adam asked Samuel why he had stayed on this unproductive land. Samuel said he did not have the courage to leave, for he knew he was a mediocre man. He added that a man could be either great and lonely or mediocre and companionable. He had decided to be companionable and was glad about his decision.



Part 4

The talk returned to names for the boys. The men discussed the story of Cain and Abel and agreed that it was a powerful story. They noted that since Abel had no children, all of humanity descended from Cain. Since Samuel had brought a Bible to help with names, he read the Cain and Abel story. Both Cain and Abel brought a sacrifice to the Lord. Abel gave a fine sheep - his very best - and Cain brought some grain. The Lord was displeased with Cain, for he did not offer his best as a sacrifice, as Abel did. Because the Lord was pleased with Abel, Cain was jealous of his brother and killed him. When the Lord asked Cain where Abel was, Cain replied, "Am I my brotherís keeper?" The Lord then cursed Cain for the murder, saying he would not be able to grow crops and would become a vagabond. Cain complained that the Lord had punished him too harshly and that everyone would now want to kill him. The Lord told Cain he would protect him from being murdered. He then put a mark on Cain so everyone would know who he was and stay away from him. Adam said it used to make him mad that God had rejected Cainís sacrifice. Now, however, the story made him feel better, for it revealed that his ancestors also had serious problems to deal with.

Adam asked Samuel and Lee to suggest some names. Samuel named Caleb and Joshua, the two men who came to the Promised Land. Adam liked Caleb, and when he pronounced the name, one of his sons looked up and started to cry. He decided that was a good sign. He did not like the name of Joshua because he was a soldier, and Adam did not like soldiering. Samuel suggested Aaron, even though he did not make it to the Promised Land. Adam liked that name too, and wen he said it, the second son looked up and started to cry. Everyone felt good about the two names. When Samuel got ready to leave, Adam thanked him for coming. When Samuel asked Adam if he would be starting his garden soon, Adam said he was not interested. Samuel became angry and asked Adam if he thought he was better than other men.


Notes

When Samuel learns from Lee that Adam is still depressed and has not named the twins, Samuel comes to the Trask place and jolts Adam back into life. Samuel insults his friend and hits him to bring him back to reality. Then at dinner Samuel helps Adam to select two names for his sons.

Samuel has brought his Bible with him to help with the naming. He reads aloud the story of Cain and Abel, which the men agree is probably the most powerful tale in the Bible. This story has been in the background throughout the novel, especially in reference to the relationship between Charles and Adam Trask and their father. Charles, like Cain, seemed to have a mark of evil on him; Adam, like Abel, is a picture of goodness. Ironically, Adam, the good son, chooses to marry Cathy, who also bears the mark of Cain. It is also significant that Adam chooses the names of Caleb and Aaron for his sons. There is definite foreshadowing that Caleb will bear the mark of Cain, while Aaron will be good like his father.


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