Our summer read has begun! Pick your favorite spot, take a deep breath and let yourself dive in...East of Eden will take you away!
By now, you've already begun to see how the theme of good and evil permeates East of Eden. You'll find it in almost every relationship, every chapter, and every plot development. Good and evil are drawn in the very landscapes Steinbeck describes.
And you've begun to meet the important people in the novel. It's quite a cast of characters, isn't it? Pay attention to Samuel Hamilton...his character is rich in symbolic meaning. As an inventor, he embodies much of what Steinbeck felt about creativity. Something to keep in mind—the entire Hamilton family is based on John Steinbeck's maternal family.
At the beginning of Chapter 5 is a description of Will Hamilton. It is one of my favorite passages in the book. I love it: "Will liked to live so no one could find fault with him, and to do that he had to live as like other people as possible."
I was struck by this poignant description, thinking how true it is that the only way to please others is to basically imitate them. Think of all the people we admire for doing great things. It is usually because they broke the mold and defined life in their own terms. I appreciate Steinbeck's characterizations; they make me think of life in a broader context.
There's so much to take in: the layered themes of good and evil, destiny, the role of women, the power of choice...so much to talk to about!
You'll hear from me again next Friday as we review Chapters 6–11. Go to Oprah.com to find other readers and to delve into your guide to every inch of this great story.
Read on...more great experiences to come!
Photo Credits: Tree photo from Steinbeck Country: Exploring the Settings for theStories by David A. Laws. John Steinbeck photo © William Ward Beecher, courtesy Globe Photos.