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lonesomepoint

lonesomepoint

East of Eden - John Steinbeck I read this about sixteen years ago (during my Steinbeck kick, from about ages 14-16), and haven't re-read it since, but I remember almost everything. This was unlike any Steinbeck work I had read before (which were The Grapes of Wrath, Travels With Charley, Burning Bright, The Wayward Bus, The Pearl, and some of Of Mice and Men), and it was easily the most interesting and engrossing. The inexplicably evil, sociopathic prostitute Cathy/Kate was one of the stranger characters I've come across. Unlike other Steinbeck works, which are drearily naturalistic, East of Eden contains good and evil, and the notion that a person can choose between them.

Unfortunately, Steinbeck didn't see fit to stop at retelling the Cain and Abel story in two generations of the Trask family; he also uses discussions between the characters (mainly Lee, (Adam Trask's butler, and Adam's neighbor Samuel Hamilton) to expatiate his odd views of Biblical theology. This serves mostly to bore (or amuse) the reader and to make Steinbeck look ridiculous. I think I have to read one of those conversations again to see whether I misunderstood it (I was only about 15) or whether Steinbeck actually claimed that God preferred Abel's sacrifice to Cain's because He preferred sheep to vegetables. Humanists...