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Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES


CHAPTER 46


Summary

Salinasís citizens responded to war with a mix of honor and idiocy. They imagined the war as heroic; but they got proof of its ignominy. They tortured Mr. Fenchel, the town tailor, because he had a German accent. They refused to patronize his business and eventually burned his tailor shop.

In a nearby town, a Polish American was tarred and feathered when a crowd mistook his accent for a German one.


Notes

This chapter centers on the war and how the citizens of Salinas reacted to it. They persecuted the town tailor simply because he had a German accent. The narrator is ashamed to admit that he and his sister participated in the persecution.


CHAPTER 47


Summary


Part 1

Lee and Adam followed the war by mapping the European front with colored pins. When Adam was appointed to the draft board, he worked diligently to be sure he made correct choices of whom to send to the front. He did not like having to send any young man away to be killed. When his co-worker reminded him that might have to send one of his sons away to war, Adam said he would resign before doing that. Adam then bragged about Aaron and said Cal was not as smart.


Part 2

While Lee made dinner, Adam talked about his guilt over sending young men away to war. Lee reminded him about the conversation they had had with Samuel Hamilton years before over the word timshel, which meant "thou mayest." Lee was hinting that Adam could resign from the draft board.


Part 3

Adam could not wait until Aaron came home from college at Thanksgiving. In his absence, Adam created him as the perfect son. In truth, Aaron was very disappointed in Stanford. He had imagined students as holy acolytes serving at the altars of knowledge; instead, he found his classmates to be mundane. He became withdrawn and spent all of his free time thinking about home and writing passionate letters to Abra. He even considered quitting college and becoming a farmer.


Notes

The time that passes while Aaron is away at college brings out the tendency to dream in both Aaron and his father. Adam begins to idealize Aaron and place a disproportionate admiration on him in comparison to Cal. At the same time, Aaron, who is disappointed with college life, idealizes Abra, making her the perfect woman and antithesis to Kate. Both father and son look forward to Thanksgiving, when Aaron will be home for the first time. Cal, of course, is also looking forward to Thanksgiving since it is the time he has chosen to present his father with the money. It is clear that the plot is rushing forward towards it final resolution.


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East of Eden Free BookNotes Summary-John Steinbeck

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