Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck|
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As Lee and Adam walked Samuel out to the shed to say good-bye, they talked about Samuel’s thirty-three year old horse named Doxology. Samuel suddenly changed the subject, asking Adam if he liked his life. When Adam failed to say anything, Samuel knew the answer. He then told Adam he had a medicine that might help him, but the cure might also kill him. Adam urged him to give it to him. Samuel then told Adam the truth about Cathy. He explained that she ran the most degraded house of prostitution in Salinas. Hearing the news, Adam ran away in great distress. Lee wondered if it was a good idea for Samuel to have told Adam the truth. Samuel said there was a remedy on the old ranches for a dog that has eaten strychnine. The farmer would chop off the dog’s tail, and the pain of the amputation would fight the poison. Samuel hoped that his news about Cathy would help Adam fight the pain. Lee praised Samuel’s bravery and said he had not seen that side of Samuel before. Samuel said Lee’s lesson about people choosing their paths gave him the courage to tell Adam. When Samuel left, Lee rode with him for a while and walked back.
Several important things happen in this chapter. First, the plot is advanced, for Adam learns the truth about Cathy. His next decision, whether to let go of Cathy, will determine the direction of his life and the novel. Additionally, the theme of the novel is developed. The Cain and Abel story, which had earlier been depicted as a terrible determinism in which Cain was fated to kill his brother, is seen in a new light. God granted Cain the freedom to overcome sin if he so chose, lifting the determinism and allowing hope. Since Caleb is destined to be a Cain figure, there is now hope for him in the story since he can choose his path. Finally, the patriarch of the novel, Samuel Hamilton, rides off into the night with death seemingly surrounding him. Lee knows he will never return to the Trask place and realizes his last brave act was his effort to set Adam free from his attachment to Cathy by telling him the truth. Lee has a new respect for the old man.
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. 09 May 2017