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Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES


CHAPTER 31


Summary


Part 1

As Lee expected, Adam told him the next morning that he was going to see Kate. When he arrived at her house of prostitution, he showed her the letter. Kate did not believe what she read and thought that Adam was trying to set some kind of trap for her. She could not understand how he could be so ethical as to give up fifty thousand dollars just because it was in someoneís will. When she laughed at him and called him Mr. Mouse, he told her he realized that her problem was that she did not understand goodness. Kate was unbalanced by Adamís obvious aloofness. It was clear she had no hold on him any longer. She then told Adam that the sheriff had made a deal with her; if she ever revealed her true name, she would be forced to leave town.


Part 2

Adam went to visit Liza Hamilton, who was staying with Olive. He was pleased that she seemed to be enjoying her retirement. Adam told her he was thinking of moving to town for the sake of the twins. She disapproved heartily, saying she had raised fine children in the country. Nevertheless, she suggested he look at Dessieís house since she might be moving to the country to live with Tom.

After looking at Dessieís house from the outside, Adam went to have dinner and ran into Will Hamilton. When he told Will that his mother said Dessie was moving to the country, Will said that she would not do that even though Tom was doing very badly since his father died.


Notes

In this chapter, the narrator reveals that his last name is Steinbeck. He has delayed revealing his part in the Hamilton family until now so as to keep the distance a narrator needs in telling a story.

Adamís encounter with Kate shows his true goodness. His conscience makes him show her the letter that states Charles has left her fifty thousand dollars. The encounter also clearly reveals that she no longer has a hold over him. Even when she laughs at him and calls him Mr. Mouse, he does not react. He only says that she does not understand goodness.

Adamís visits with Liza and Will serve as his continued connection to the Hamilton family. They also reveal that he is serious about his consideration to move into town.


CHAPTER 32


Summary


Part 1

Dessie, who had always been a favorite of the family, was also well liked in town until her heart was broken. People had loved to come to her shop and always left smiling and laughing. After Dessieís heartbreak, she became sullen, and her customers stopped coming, for they did not want to be saddened by her. Dessie became even more depressed after Samuelís death.

Everyone in the family except Will knew of Dessieís decision to live with her brother Tom in the country. When Adam told Will about her plan, he went straight to Dessieís house and told her she could not move out to the country and desert her business. When she said the business was failing anyway, he said she could not move to the country because Tom was crazy, writing poetry all the time and moping around. When he did not convince Dessie to change her mind, he left in a huff.


Part 2

Tom was excited that Dessie was coming to live with him in the country and felt hopeful that things would get better for him. He put ribbons all over his horse to honor the occasion of her homecoming, scrubbed the house clean, and put welcome signs on all the trees on the road home. When they met at the station, they danced in joy at seeing each other. When Dessie told Tom about Willís estimation of Tomís sanity, he became angry, but Dessie calmed him down. Dessie also told Tom that Liza had wanted to come with her. When Dessie said she could not join her, Liza had cried briefly; it was the first time anyone had seen her shed tears

Dessie felt a sharp pain in her side during the night, which kept her awake. She thought about Tomís confusion and decided she must guide him. She also thought about the times when the house was full of people. Her mind then turned to thoughts of death. "You just have to wait around long enough and it will come." By the time she got up, Tom was already awake. He told her that they were going to make the house live again.


Notes

Will is the last to learn that his sister Dessie is moving to the country to live with Tom. Being a true businessman, he goes to her and says she cannot desert her business. Knowing that her business is failing, Dessie does not listen to his advice. Her mind is made up. She needs to heal herself in the country and help Tom in the process. Despite the hopeful thoughts and words of Tom and Dessie, it is hard to imagine that these two wounded people will be able to make a happy place of the Hamilton farm, especially since the pain in Dessieís side and her thoughts about death are foreshadowing of trouble.


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