Free Study Guide for East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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Part 1

Charles and Adam still disagreed about many things. Adam wanted to spend their inheritance, traveling to Egypt or Paris. Charles was not interested. He did, however, show Adam more respect after he learned about his being on a chain gang.

Charles went outside one morning and found Cathy on the stoop, covered in mud and blood. Although he brought her inside, he wanted to take her to town even if the trip killed her, for he did not want to do anything to spoil his good reputation. In contrast, Adam wanted to help Cathy and insisted they take her to his room. Charles agreed and went for the doctor. As Adam stood watch over Cathy, he remembered his stepmother standing over him tending to his wounds inflicted by Charles. Adam also spoke to Cathy in a soothing voice, assuring her he will take care of her.

Part 2

The doctor tended Cathy as best he could, but she was severely wounded. He wanted to bring the sheriff out because it was clear that someone had tried to kill Cathy. Adam did not want the sheriff to bother Cathy. When Charles urged him to let the sheriff see Cathy, Adam said it was likely she had lost her memory because of the deep wounds on her head. Cathy heard his comment and decided to act as if she could not remember anything.

It was finally decided that the sheriff must come. When he tried to question Cathy, she could not speak since her jaw was broken; instead, she responded with paper and pen. She clearly wrote that she did not know anything and asked the sheriff for his help. By he time he left, Cathy was sure that "she had won the sheriff." Charles was a different story. It was clear that he did not trust her.

Part 3

Adam was delighted to have Cathy at the farm, but Charles was miserable. One day while Adam was out, Charles told Cathy he did not believe that she had lost her memory. When she asked him what he planned to do with her, he said he was going to make her leave in a week to ten days. He then told her she had talked a lot in her delirium, divulging things about her past. Cathy believed him. When he left her, he laughed that she was gullible enough to believe him.

Part 4

Cathy was frightened about Charles even though she felt a kinship with him. She believed he was the only person she had ever met "who played it her way." Adam, however, was easy to manipulate. She told him she had never lost her memory, but pretended that she had because she was alone and afraid. He told her not to worry, that he would take care of her. Adam then asked Cathy to marry him. She told him she needed to think about it and asked him not to tell Charles he had proposed. She did not really want to be married, but she thought it would be a good refuge for a while. She also smiled at the thought of Charles finding out.

Part 5

When Adam went out to the field to talk to his brother, Charles told him that Alex Platt, a neighboring farmer, had found a suitcase full of clothes and four thousand dollars. The suitcase had no identification, and none of the clothes had labels in them. Alex had also told Charles that the town was talking about them for having a woman living in their house. Charles told Adam he did not like Cathy and wanted her to leave. Adam asked Charles to give him one more week and then he would get Cathy out.

Part 6

Five days later Charles left the farm on an errand. Adam immediately loaded Cathy onto the buggy, took her to town, and married her. When they returned home and announced what they had done, Charles flew into a rage and called her a whore. Adam told Cathy he wanted to get away from the farm and Charles and move to California. When she said she did not want to go, he informed her that since she was his wife, she had to go with him.

When it was time for bed, Cathy asked her husband to sleep in her room; but she told him she could not have sex with him yet because she was not completely recovered. She asked him for some tea. When Adam drank his, he said it tasted odd. Cathy told him he must have drunk her cup of tea with her pain medicine. Before long, Adam fell into a heavy sleep. Then Cathy went to Charles’ room and told him to move over and let her in his bed. She told him Adam had drunk her medicine and would be sleeping soundly. Charles threw back the cover to let her in.


In this chapter, Steinbeck continues to point out the differences between Adam and Charles. Adams still urges his brother to spend their inheritance, traveling to Egypt or Europe. In contrast, Charles has no desire to travel or leave the farm. When Cathy is found on their stoop, the two brothers have completely opposite reactions to her. Charles wants to take her to town immediately, for he does not want to spoil his reputation by keeping a woman in the house. In contrast, Adam insists upon putting Cathy in his room and caring for her. When Charles wants the sheriff to come and question Cathy, Adam feels she should be protected and left alone. Most importantly, the two brothers develop very different emotions for her. Charles is totally suspicious of Cathy, sensing something evil in her. In contrast, Adam falls deeply in love with her.

Cathy sees the differences between the brothers. Even though she appreciates Adam’s kindness and knows that she can easily manipulate him, she feels a real kinship with Charles. Steinbeck symbolically indicates their similarity by the scars that both of them carry on their foreheads. Both of them are Cain figures - heartless and amoral. Cathy proves her heartlessness and immorality when she marries Adam. It is clear that she does not love him; instead, she marries him for protection and to irritate Charles. She has no intention of staying married for long, as indicated by her refusal to entertain the thought of moving to California with her new husband. Her actions on her wedding night totally prove her lack of morals. She tells her husband she cannot have sex with him because she is not completely healed. She then proceeds to drug Adam, by putting her pain medicine in his tea. As soon as he is soundly asleep, she goes into Charles’ room and gets in bed with him. Charles does not resist her advances, proving his amorality. Having sex with Charles on her wedding night to Adam indicates that Cathy symbolically married Charles while she literally married his brother.

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East of Eden Free BookNotes Summary-John Steinbeck
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