The journey through East of Eden is getting darker. Things are heating up. Don't say I didn't warn you!
The Cain and Abel myth is being played out over many years between Charles and Adam Trask. The Trask family is, in some ways, a counterpoint to the Hamiltons; they are even more symbolic in Steinbeck's exploration of good and evil. In Adam, you see the struggle to find good, the desire for renewal, and the hope for a new start. His search continues through the very last page of the book.
And of course, you've now seen the heart of evil, in Cathy. She is truly a monster—evil incarnate! She is a woman you love to hate. You can see right through her can't you? Does it give you a little sense of superiority that the other characters don't see through her? How is it possible that Adam doesn't see her true colors?
Think about this. Some critics believe that the character of Cathy was influenced by Steinbeck's heartbreaking divorce from his second wife, Gwyn. He wrote in his Journal, "Cathy is going to worry a lot of...parents about their children but I have been perfectly honest about her and I certainly have her prototype."
Read on! As Steinbeck himself said, it is the book he had been "practicing for" all his life.
Photo Credits: John Steinbeck photo courtesy of Arthur Noskowiak. Salinas Valley photo from Steinbeck Country: Exploring the Settings for the Stories by David A. Laws.