Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck|
Page | Table of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Quinn became sheriff in 1903 and held the office until 1919. He had kept track
of Kate over the years. He had suspected what had happened to Faye, but he did
not do anything about it because he knew Kate was too clever to be convicted.
When Joe was shot by the deputy, Sheriff Quinn went over the contents of his pockets.
He found and read the will and studied the pictures that were there. He called
someone on the phone and asked him to come to the office. When he arrived, the
sheriff showed him the will and asked him if it was worth anything. The man said
it was "as good as gold." Then he showed the man the pictures of the
men at Kateís, including a picture of the visitor. The sheriff promised that he
would burn the pictures.
Sheriff Quinn then went to the Trask place. As
he waited for Adam, he thought of something a doctor had once told him: "I
love to deliver a baby, because if I do my work well, thereís joy at the end of
it." Quinn felt the opposite was true in his job. If he did his work well,
there was sorrow at the end of it. As Quinn looked around him, he noticed that
the Trask house was decorated as if a woman lived there. He knew Lee had done
it to make it seem like a home for Adam, but the sheriff thought it looked too
feminine and overdone.
Quinn remembered the day he had interviewed Adam
after his wife had shot him. He had not seen him often after that day, for Adam
built up a wall around himself. When Adam finally came in, Quinn gave him the
news that Kate had died. Adam wept and said, "Oh, my poor darling!"
Then Quinn showed Adam the will. Adam wanted to ignore it so he would not have
to tell Aaron the truth about his mother, but Quinn told him that would be illegal.
Adam asked Quinn what he should do. Quinn told him to call Aaron and tell him
everything, even why he had never told him before.
Adam asked Lee where
Aaron was, but he did not know. Adam then called Cal. When he came in, he looked
wretched and had a crafty, mean expression on his face. When Adam asked him where
Aaron was, Cal responded, "Am I supposed to look after him?" Suddenly
Adam felt a jarring sensation in his body, saw an incredibly bright blue light,
and felt fuzzy as though he could not talk.
After the sheriff had gone,
Lee went into the kitchen and got out his copy of The Meditations of
Marcus Aurelius. He read about the transitory nature of time
and the lasting impression of memories. He read about the fact that change is
present in every part of life and the idea that even in old age, a person has
not achieved wisdom. Lee remembered he had stolen the book from Samuel Hamilton
years before. He knew Samuel had known he had stolen it because no one else would
have been interested in the book.
alone in his room, feeling sorrowful and ashamed. He also felt panicked about
what had happened to Aaron, who had been gone for two days. Cal had never drunk
alcohol before and felt miserable after having done so the night before. After
spending Friday brooding, he had bought a bottle of whiskey and drank himself
sick. He hated himself for what he had done and knew he had to confess to his
Cal started burning the money he had earned and given to his father.
Lee came in and said he just wanted to sit with him. He watched as Cal burned
the money and asked him if it was giving him pleasure. Then Lee told Cal a story
about one time he had gotten drunk and tried to play tennis with bats. Cal laughed
and told Lee he got drunk so he would not kill himself. Cal then said he did not
know why he was so mean or why he had hurt Aaron. Lee said he was whipping himself
and making himself into some kind of epic evil; instead, Lee said Cal was just
a flawed, self-indulgent human. Cal felt his face relaxing.
Lee told Cal
that Kate had committed suicide the night before. He then claimed that Americans
were a violent people, who were over-brave, over-fearful, over-sentimental, and
Cal began to realize that he was just like other Americans,
which again made him feel better.
After Lee left Calís room, he found
Adam slumped over outside the front door. When he asked Adam what was wrong with
him, he said he was tired. Lee then noticed a post card in Adamís hand. It was
from Aaron saying he had enlisted.
to have had a stroke right at the moment when Cal spoke the words of Cain. In
the Biblical account, Cain killed Abel and then hid. When God asked Cain where
his brother was, Cain answered, "Am I my brotherís keeper?" When Adam
asks Cal where Aaron is, Calís words are almost exactly the same. Although he
has not physically killed Aaron, Cal has murdered his brotherís innocence by taking
him to meet Kate. There is a difference, however, for Cal has a conscience and
is miserable about what he has done and panicky about what has happened to Aaron.
Cal has thought about suicide and drunken himself into oblivion to ease his pain
The wise Lee, sensing that something is wrong with Cal, comes
to his room. He attempts to change Calís image of himself by talking about Americans
in general and explaining to Cal that he is no different; he is simply a flawed
human being, with both good and evil inside. He reminds Cal that he is in control
of his destiny.
Through Leeís short speech, Steinbeck summarizes the novelís
approach to the theme of good versus evil. Instead of regarding these categories
as metaphysical realities, existing in ideal forms in different people, making
some people naturally and irredeemably evil and some people naturally and incorruptibly
good, Lee shows Cal a way to see that all people are mixed in their allocation
of good and evil. It is in their power to choose between them.
Previous Page | Table
of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version
of Eden Free BookNotes Summary-John Steinbeck