Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck|
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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.
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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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on East of Eden".
. 09 May 2017