Newsletter: East Of Eden
We're coming to the final chapters of this vast story. Isn't it hard to think of leaving Salinas Valley? Well, fear not—there is much to come before our journey ends!
In the beginning of Part Four, Steinbeck, as narrator, reiterates his deepest beliefs and perhaps the reason for the novel itself: "I believe there is only one story in the world, and only one. ... Humans are caught...in a net of good and evil. ... There is no other story. ... [W]hen a man dies...the question is still there: Was his life good or was it evil? ... Was he loved or was he hated? ... Is his death felt as a loss or does a kind of joy come of it?" *
But don't let Steinbeck's reflections lead you to believe that East of Eden is winding down in its final chapters! Steinbeck shapes a whole new generation of characters and action in Part Four, to signify his key themes even more powerfully.
It's intriguing to me to look into the mind of the author as he was creating. In Journal of a Novel, The East of Eden Letters, Steinbeck wrote with clarity and purpose—and yet was curious himself about where the novel would go. He wrote:
"The final section...amounts to a whole novel in subject matter. ... So—now—we are about ready to go. We have a new kind of a world in the Salinas Valley, and our timeless principles must face a new set of facts and react to them. Are you interested to see what happens? I am." ** Fascinating. Often, the creative process is a mystery, even to the creator!
What does happen in this week's chapters is again filled with intrigue, drama, secrets and scandal. Lee helps the Trasks move to Salinas, where the boys will become young men and live out their destinies of darkness and light, while Cathy's evil continues to haunt them. And Adam, as he re-enters the world of the living, embarks on a forward thinking business idea that leads him to spectacular failure.
In 7th grade, Cal is clever, manipulative, dark and feared, while Aron is shy, delicate and beloved. Even at this young age, Aron and Abra speak of marriage. In a heart-wrenching moment, Aron asks Abra to pretend she is the mother he never had. Abra divulges that, according to her parents, Cathy is alive. Aron is devastated, and closes his mind to the idea completely. As he grows, Aron escapes into a world of religion, and declares himself celibate. His goodness cannot face this world.