When the war broke out, everyone in Salinas felt that no one in the world could beat the United States. Patriotism ran high in spite of the scarcity of goods. As planned, Will took full advantage of the situation. He bought beans from the farmers at two and a half cents a pound and sold them to the British for twelve cents a pound. The war would make him richer, and Cal would also benefit.


In this very short chapter, Steinbeck explains that the war has begun, and Will and Cal are profiting from the scarcity of food. They buy beans cheaply from the local farmers and sell them for five times at much to the British. The scheme is making them rich.



Part 1

Lee came in wearing his usual conservative business attire. He had once told Adam that the rich could afford to dress sloppily, but the poor must present a perfect image. As Lee talked about making a melon soup, Adam scarcely listened to him, for he was thinking about Aaron. He had heard from the school principal that Aaron had been studying for his exit exams so he could finish high school a year early. Adam told Lee that he wished that Cal were as ambitious as his brother.

Smiling to himself, Lee stated that Cal had ambition and might present a real surprise to Adam soon. When Adam worried about having enough money for Aaron's college, Lee said they could afford it as long as Aaron did not develop expensive tastes.

Part 2

Mr. Rolf loved Aaron and liked to watch him as he studied in the rectory. When they talked of high church doctrine and confessionals, Aaron said he would want a confessional in his church when he had one. Mr. Rolf then told Aaron he had recently noticed that the madam of a brothel had been coming to church. He added that the two of them would have to try and save her soul.

Part 3

In spite of the war, time marched forward. Liza Hamilton died, and Aaron prepared to take his exit exams. When he passed them, he did not bother to tell Adam the news. Cal told Lee that he was surprised and angered that Aaron did not tell their father. Later Lee confronted Aaron and asked why he had not told Adam. Aaron said he did not think his father cared. All he wanted to do was go away to college, for he felt he no longer belonged in Salinas. Lee then told Aaron that Adam had left a graduation present for him. It was a gold watch, which Adam had engraved.


Adam seems absent-minded and distracted in this chapter. He has noticed Cal is always gone from the house, but he has no idea where he has been. He also knows that Aaron is studying for his exit exams but is not in tune with the fact that he passed them. Aaron thinks that his father does not care. In truth, Adam believes that Aaron has done something special in graduating from high school and heading to college. To honor the occasion, he buys him a gold watch and has it engraved. Aaron has obviously misjudged Adam's interest.

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East of Eden Free BookNotes Summary-John Steinbeck
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