The Women of East of Eden: Abra's Role
Abra takes the full measure of the men in the Trask household. When Aron is writhing with the disgrace of his father's business failure, Abra demands that he kiss her publicly, so she, as "Mrs. Lettucehead," will share his humiliation. Brave and independent, she loves fully.
When Aron goes to Stanford, she finds solace in Lee to whom she told "only true things even when she wasn't quite sure what was true." She converses knowingly with him, and thus another bond is forged. Growing into her own sexuality, she rejects Aron's purity and devotion, resisting his idealization of her. Abra craves the fullness of life—and only guilty, brooding, complex Cal can give her life as it is.
Abra's humanity and compassion is reflected in the love she attracts and the kind of space she shares with each of these males, all motherless, all outsiders, all needy of her love. With Aron she inhabits imaginary enclosures, a secret tree, an imagined farm in their future. With Lee she shares the kitchen, the heart of the Trask house, and as his "daughter" will inherit the legacy of his wisdom along with the gift of his mother's only ornament, a hand suggesting support and love. With Cal she stands at the foot of his dying father's bed; she, Cal and Lee, a realigned family, witness Adam's forgiveness of Cal.
Unlike Cathy who shrinks and retreats, Abra grows and moves outward as she reaches maturity through her love of the Trask family. And they in turn grow—or resist growth, in Aron's case—from love of her. Abra embodies the meaning of timshel — she chooses her path and she forges a life of her own making.