East of Eden
The masterpiece of Steinbeck's later years, East of Eden is the powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is both family saga and a modern retelling of the book of Genesis.
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The title alludes to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother Abel and is punished by God by being sent to the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Steinbeck is known for the setting of his novels. Many are set in or around Salinas, California. Of Mice and Men was also set in Salinas, California. Below is a map of Salinas. Steinbeck describes the setting in great detail and uses sensory imagery to create the scene for the setting of his text. (This annotation contains an image)
You can easily find the definition of any word in the text. Simply select the word and choose the "Define" feature. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Steinbeck recalls, "it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always the way." The water cycle of the Salinas Valley is a metaphor for
Steinbeck utilizes the exposition to the fullest extent in this novel. He spends a great deal of time providing purposeful background detail that will make more sense as you read the text. For example, he provides a geographical or topographical history of Salinas Valley in order to supply the reader with information about Salinas, but it also illustrates the extreme change that occurs when new ruling classes emerge. One of the themes Steinbeck develops in the text are effects of time on technology, culture, relationships, and society as a whole.
Samuel is characterized in a series of dichotomous pairings: he is "immaculate" even though he is in the "dusty business of ranching." He has a talent for inventing, but he does not have a talent for making money off of the inventions. He is vivacious and full of energy, yet he marries and loves a "tight hard little woman humor-less as a chicken." This characterization suggests
There is a striking contrast between Samuel Hamilton and his wife Liza. Where Samuel has the ability to put most at ease, allow for conversation, and was "safe as a repository" for anyones' secrets, his wife did was not as amicable. She believed in sin, diligence and arduous work to ward off sin, and the devil. This may seem like an absurd pairing, but Steinbeck notes while Liza hated laughter because "people having a good time were wide open to the devil," "Samuel was a laughing man... His wife protected him whenever she could." This establishes two elements for the remainder of the text: 1. The Hamilton's union is to some extent ideal. It is well balanced. 2. Samuel and Liza's polar opposite characters are both utilized to shape and influence the lives of other characters within the Salinas Valley.
Upon returning from the Civil War, Cyrus Trask gives his wife gonorrhea, and as a result she commits suicide. Why does she feel suicide is the only option she has? Utilize three pieces of textual evidence to support your conclusions and characterization.
Through the characterization of Cyrus Trask, you can see a man on the verge of degeneration who becomes a very prominent and public military figure. He creates this image through acquired knowledge, manipulation of history, and an essential maintenance of truth: he never elevates himself above rank of private. Steinbeck introduces the significance of lies through Cyrus's character. Characters throughout the text tell various lies. Truth and deception are emerging themes in this text. View the video below for the definition of emerging theme. (This annotation contains a video)
In Shakepeare's play Julius Caesar, Caesar's wife Calpurnia wants him to heed the warnings of astrological events, though Caesars scoffs. Calpurnia warns Caesar that "When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes" (II, ii, 30-31). When great men, such as father figure to a young child, fall, the reverberations are far-reaching seemingly endless.
Adam is a lonely boy. He is disenchanted with his father and views him as a martinet rather than a caregiver. Adam finds security in his brother Charles, but the boys do not have a loving bond. The only family figure remaining in his life is his step-mother Alice, and Adam's feelings for her are "akin to a warm shame." Why does Adam feel this way?
After Charles beats Adam into unconsciousness, Cyrus's demeanor towards Adam changes. He speaks to Adam with "gentleness" that frightens Adam. Cyrus is preparing his eldest son to be a soldier because Cyrus knows there is a quintessential difference between Charles and Adam. Adam does not have a propensity towards violence and is cognizant of the damage violent behavior can do when unchecked.
Cyrus explains to Adam that he must conform to the army's expectations or "they'll vomit you up and leave you stinking outside - neither part of themselves nor yet free." He describes the army as "a kind of dreadful beauty." This is an example of a(n)
The exchange between Cyrus and Adam is important on two levels: 1. Cyrus admits that he loves Adam better and this creates a natural rift between the two brothers that can result in jealousy. 2. The theme of brotherhood emerges. The entire text is developed around the biblical allusion to the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. They are the first brothers of the Bible, and their relationships explore the fundamental human emotions (excluding sexual nature). By comparing the two brothers, there is a veiled allusion to the biblical pair. What elements of brotherhood do the brothers demonstrate or lack thus far? Below is a YouTube clip of the story of Cain and Abel. (This annotation contains a video)
Charles attacks Adam with the intent to
The dynamic between Adam and Charles is perplexing. Adam protects Charles even though Adam is fully aware that Charles planned on killing him. Adam does not feel pride that his father loves him more, but instead feels shame and pity that Charles feels unloved. But Adam does not admit he loves Charles. When Alice says to Adam, "He doesn't think his father loves him. But you love him - you always have." Adam does not answer. Reread exchange between Charles and Adam, identify the parallels between Cain and Abel. Who is Cain? What was his sacrifice to Cyrus?
The G.A.R. stands for the Grand Army of the Republic. It was formed after the Civil War to serve Veterans. The link below provides a brief history. (This annotation contains a link)
While Adam is away at war, many changes occur within Adam and at home: Adam is a decorated soldier, his step-mother passes away from tuberculosis, and his father moves to Washington. The greatest change occurs between Adam and Charles. Which quote best surmises the developing relationship between the brothers?
When Steinbeck writes, he does not follow a progressive plot structure of one family. He follows an historical timeline with family histories that overlap and intersect. This structure was criticized as a detraction from the overall theme and was almost self-indulgent. One critic, Louis Owens wrotes, Steinbeck's family historical accounts “... contribute little or nothing to the central theme of the novel and negate the possibility of unity in the work” (John Steinbeck’s Re-visioning of America, 1985). Do you agree with Owens? Would the text have a greater impact if it were told in a more traditional structure?
According to the narrator, Will Hamilton's character is formed by all of the following influences except
Liza is a static character in the text. View the video below to learn more about static and dynamic characters. As you read, consider which characters are static and which are dynamic. (This annotation contains a video)
The narrator characterizes Charles as "timid of girls," and that is why he seeks physical companionship at a whorehouse. The narrator elaborates about the "safety for a shy man with a whore." Based on the description, what other inferences can you make about Charles' character?
The theme of sexuality and prostitution are minor but essential to this text. Whorehouses were abundant in many places, and they could be a source of catharsis for some and violence and power for others. As you read, note the women who are characterized as "whores" and how they are treated by others and society.
Charles is so bothered by the scar on his forehead even though he "got plenty other scars." It "seems like [he] was marked." This indicates to the reader that the scar may be
Based on the bartender's reaction to Adam's stare, the mood in the bar can be described as
The dynamic between Cyrus and Adam has changed slightly. Cyrus is now an important man who is highly regarded by military personnel. Adam, on one level, is also well respected as a corporal. But the tension between them is still apparent especially when Cyrus removes his leg and the "childhood fear and respect and animosity" come back to Adam. This illustrates how no matter how accomplished you are or how many years pass, you will still be a child to your parents.
In order to deal with Adam not returning and rejection of a life with his brother, Charles "began to keep one slovenly woman after another. When they got on his nerves he threw them out the way he would sell a pig." This illustrates the theme of
The image of a bindlestiff is another that is repeated in Steinbeck's other works. A bindlestiff is a man who travels throughout the country, a nomad of sorts, and carries his possession in a bindle on his back. The picture below is of a bindlestiff. The men traveled for various reasons, tried to remain in temperate climate, and often held odd jobs. In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie are versions of a bindlestiff, and in Into the Wild Chris McCandless is a modern day bindlestiff (his bindle is a backpack). Steinbeck's metaphor for a bindlestiff describes the quintessential lifestyle: "They were brothers to the coyote which, being wild, lives close to man and his chickenyards: they were near towns but not in them." What is Adam doing as a bindlestiff? Why does he choose to live on the fringe of society rather than be a part of society? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the details of Adam's sentence to the chain gang, would you characterize him as a dynamic or static character? Cite examples from the text to support your conclusions.
Cyrus dies and neither of his sons are notified immediately so they may attend the funeral. In Adam's case, it is understandable because he is a transient, but Charles lives at the family farm. The attorneys find the address among his father's paperwork. What does this indicate about the relationship between Cyrus and Charles? Why is there a strain?
From Charles' perspective, the gifts they gave their father as boys were symbolic of
When Charles realizes that his father did not serve as he claimed to, then Charles begins to question everything about his father. This illustrates an emerging theme about truths and lies. Once you are lied to by someone, it is nearly impossible to trust that person again.
Why does Adam refuse to acquiesce to the idea that his father stole the money he had saved?
The theme of brotherhood is demonstrated in the dialogue between the two men. Like in the tale of Cain and Abel, Charles was jealous of Adam, but unlike Cain and Abel, once the source of jealousy was removed (Cyrus's death), then the two men could be brothers. Cyrus's death is upsetting to Charles, but to Adam it is liberating. He is no longer afraid of Charles, he no longer has to be tested by Cyrus, and now he lives for himself alone.
Steinbeck believes monsters can hide beneath a beautiful visage. Monsters can have a "malformed soul." He also notes that "to a monster the norm must seem monstrous," and a "to a man born without a conscience, a soul-striken man must seem ridiculous." What theme do these paradoxes illustrate?
According to Steinbeck, what is the difference between a story and a lie?
Steinbeck's account of Cathy's sexuality develops of the theme of sexuality and power. Consider what Steinbeck says about the "freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality!" There is a duality to sexuality: some use it to their advantage and others succumb to it.
For what purpose does Cathy manipulate the boys?
Steinbeck's characterization of Cathy's behavior, lies, and malicious tendencies make her seem like a sociopath. A sociopath is a person who is anti-social and lacks a conscience. Sociopaths often manipulate and exploit others for no other reason other than they can. A prime example of a sociopath from contemporary literature and film is Patrick Bateman, the protagonist (if you can label him that) from the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho. In the novel, Bateman explicitly admits to his character flaw. “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.” Does this remind you of Cathy?
Mr. Grew is characterized as a man who sought to be readmitted to divinity school, but soon "the flame went out" inside of him. He takes his own life after attempting to converse with Mr. Ames. Based on this evidence one can infer that
Cathy has the ability to disconnect her emotions from her expression. She is able to read the situation, determine an exit-strategy, and feign any emotion she needs in order to surmount the obstacle. Without conscience, Cathy is capable of anything. Remember that as you read.
After Cathy kills the chicken and reserves the blood, she lights a fire and burns her apron. She then hides the blood. When she looks in the mirror, her mouth is "turned up in its small childlike smile." She had the same smile on her face the day Mr. Grew's body was discovered. You can infer that her childlike smile indicates
Cathy commits premeditated murder and stages her own death. She prepared the house to be set ablaze, orchestrated a murder scene complete with blood, and took the locks out of the door to prevent her parents from escaping (if they tried). The people of the town assume Cathy was abducted because "she was so pretty." Do you think this is what Cathy believed would happen? Why did she commit this crime? Her acts and her character help to establish a point of "evil" on the spectrum of "good to evil."
What does the narrator mean by the simile, "in all such local tragedies time works like a damp brush on watercolor"?
The idea of a whorehouse or brothel in the twenty-first century may conjure images of filth, disease, and even crime. But in the late nineteenth century, they were an accepted establishment. Women who worked in a whorehouse were usually rural women seeking money and didn't want to be street walkers. Living in a brothel was better in the sense that a young woman had a warm bed to sleep in at night, but there was still violence and disease associated with the profession. In the text, Mr. Edwards oversees a number of brothels. He isn't kind; he seeks women who are "properly stupid" and "not... very pretty" in order to take advantage of the women he employs. When a woman became too old or diseased to work, there was no retirement plan. Young women entered the profession seeking money, but few planned for the future. Unfortunately, "no one who is young is ever going to be old." Below is a link to a site about the archeological excavation of a former brothel site in Boston, MA. (This annotation contains a link)
Which line from the text best characterizes Catherine's relationship with Mr. Edwards?
With the exception of Catherine's scurrilous tirade while she was drunk, the relationship between Catherine and Mr. Edwards parallels that of Cathy and her parents. Their love for Cathy mitigates their ability to clearly see Cathy's manipulations. Unlike Cathy's parents, Mr. Edwards uncovers the truth and jaded by her deception, will no longer trust her. He trades her heinous behavior for his own and plans to do away with her. This digression from the other established plots (Adam Trask and Samuel Hamilton's), is a necessity. The plots will converge.
After Mr. Edwards beats Catherine to what he believes is to her death, he has "a kind of fearful respect for himself. He had never known that the impulse to kill was in him." What drove Mr. Edwards to want to kill Catherine? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Have you ever had an experience similar to Charles and Adam's? Because their time is consumed with one another and no one else, they are bound to be irked by the slightest thing like jam on the butter. The underlying cause of conflict between Adam and Charles is Adam's need to migrate. He cannot be tethered to the farm the way Charles allows himself to be.
Adam is in a state of limbo: he doesn't want to stay on the farm and doesn't want to leave. This is an example of a(n)
Steinbeck presents a series of parallel plots and parallel characters. Similar to Samuel and Liza Hamilton, Charles and Adam are foils. They are diametrically opposite, and at points this helps you view the characters from a different perspective. Unlike Samuel and Liza Hamilton, the Trusk brothers cannot seem to reach a common understanding and this causes conflict between the two. Think of some quintessential differences between Charles and Adam.
Characterization is developed through narration and perspective, both self-reflection and subjective views from other characters, so when Charles says, "Yes, I do. You don't tell lies. Of course I believe you," you can characterize Adam as
As soon as Cathy enters the Trask brothers' lives, there is a rift that occurs between them. Adam is immediately drawn to her and to care for her. This may seem in his nature, but Charles is not simply a callous man. Charles is more logical than Adam, and though Adam is more widely traveled and by some standards more experienced, he is provincial when it comes to women.
As Adam sits beside Cathy and watches her sleep, he caresses her hand and wrist, and then tucks her under the covers. You can infer that Adam treats her like a wounded __________ rather than a stranger.
Thus far in the text, we have not encountered any people who do not trust Cathy upon first meeting her. She is a sedulous liar and has the ability to mutate into whatever she needs to be to survive. But there is something about her that Charles recognizes and repudiates. He doesn't trust her and wants her gone.
The dialogue between Cathy and Charles "had frightened her badly." In what tone does Charles speak to her?
Adam unfortunately comes to the same conclusions about Cathy that he parents and Mr. Edwards surmised. He believes Cathy to be a "helpless child," but in an ironic twist he is the innocent and callow of the pair. Adam's interaction with Cathy further illustrates how Adam and Charles are foils as well as demonstrating Cathy's maniacal tendencies.
In a previous dialogue, Charles believes Adam because he says Adam doesn't lie. Once Adam decides to marry Cathy he tells a lie of omission to his brother and blatantly lies to him. Based on this diversion from character, what can you deduce about Cathy's influence on Adam?
Cathy consummates her marriage to Adam by sleeping with his brother. Why do you think she seeks out a sexual tryst with Charles after she claims she is scared of him? Why does Charles have sex with her when he doesn't trust her and calls her a whore?
Steinbeck uses repetition of the phrase, "but the strawberries will never taste so good again and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!" to emphasize society's
Consider that Steinbeck is claiming that invention lies with the individual. Think about the creation of companies like Apple, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter: were these the invention of the individual or a collaborative effort of a group? Steinbeck is, on one level, lamenting the industrialization and mechanization of America. He sees a conflict between the "free exploring mind of the individual human" and the establishments "built on a pattern." Are these two ideas mutually exclusive or can they coexist?
When the doctor discovers Cathy's failed abortion attempt, he tries without success to determine why she would try to do something he views as unjustified. He then speaks to her as if she is uneducated to the fact that "You must not destroy life." As he speaks to Cathy, he "dreaded the sick silence between sentences." Cathy "puzzled him" and did not seem human. Why does he have this perception of Cathy?
Adam's plans for the future are centralized around Cathy. The problem with Adam's motives are that Cathy does not love Adam, does not want to be with Adam, and does not want to be in California. She tells him sincerely that she does not want to go to California, yet Adam moves her there. There is problem between perception and reality. Where else have you seen this theme develop?
Steinbeck merges the parallel plots of Adam Trask and the Hamiltons here. From this point forward, the two families will intersect at various points in the future.
Louis warns Adam that Samuel Hamilton may be "full of plans" but he is also "full of hope" and "some of his plans work out." Louis is defensive because he believes that Easterners who transplant to California have the preconceived notion that "if a man hasn't got a lot of money he's no good." This is __________ because Louis is basing his defense on a preconceived idea about Easterners.
Samuel Hamilton is a man of many words. He is able to convey his message and impress his ideas upon others through his ostensibly tangential stories; he admits he "shepherd[s] [his] words like rebellious sheep." But his meandering dialogues have an effect on the listener. Without much effort he is able to put his audience at ease, gain respect, and coax and unwilling ear to listen.
Samuel tells Louis, "a man's mind can't stay in time the way his body does." This reveals all of the following about Samuel's character except
This passage is important. Please refer back to this passage when Adam discusses his plans for his farm and garden with Samuel.
Steinbeck describes the rural schoolhouse as a "repository of art and science" where the schoolteacher "shielded and carried the torch of learning and beauty." A teacher was a paragon of intellect and society. Based on Steinbeck's characterization, the word paragon most nearly means
Steinbeck discusses the "wall against learning." It was the belief or the feat that learning should be limited or it makes you "flighty." The idea that an educated society (or in Steinbeck's case family) would question and then eventually abandon its leadership is explored in many texts. In George Orwell's Animal Farm, the pigs usurp the power and authority from the farmer, ultimately declare that only pigs should will be educated and therefore maintain their status as the ruling class. Other animals who were more educated were ostracized from the farm or sacrificed in the name of rebellion. In the end, the pigs are not distinguishable from the men who ruled over the farm before. Below is a brief synopsis of the text and a rendering of the denouement of the text. (This annotation contains an image)
Steinbeck characterizes Olive with great ___________ of her courage, patience, and fortitude.
Steinbeck's digression about his mother gives the reader a perspective from which the story is told. Steinbeck was raised by a woman of great strength who did not believe in two things without evidence: a bad Hamilton and an airplane. In addition to providing perspective, the levity of Steinbeck's personal story breaks up the intensity of the other plots.
Though it may seem unusual to some, Adam's "pigtailed Chinese cook" Lee was commonplace in California in the turn of the twentieth century. In California from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, there was an influx of Chinese immigrants. They came to America in search of money, land, and freedom, but often their dreams were deferred. In 1882, President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act put a ten year suspension on Chinese labor immigration. Below is a political cartoon about the Chinese Exclusion Act. (This annotation contains an image)
Samuel is concerned "whether people would be happy when [modern technologies] came" to their town. He says, "There's a capacity for appetite that a whole heaven and earth of cake can't satisfy." This concern demonstrates which theme?
Though Cathy is portrayed as a monster, she is genuinely lonely in her life with Adam. What does Cathy's life reveal about isolation?
Cathy is able to assess people very well. Lee intimidates her because she cannot decide if he is a threat or not. She cannot determine the source of his danger towards her. Below is a picture of a Chinese man with a queue and an outfit similar to what Lee would be wearing. Steinbeck refers to Lee's limited and broken English as "pidgin." This is term to describe any language that develops as means of communication between an English speaker and a non-English speaker. (This annotation contains an image)
Samuel has an intimation that Lee can speak English much better than he does. Lee reveals to Samuel that he can speak English perfectly, but he does not for three reasons: convenience, self-protection, and expectation. When Lee confides in Samuel, what does it reveal about the dynamic of Samuel and Lee's relationship?
Samuel hesitates to ask Lee why he became a servant because he fears it may offend him. Lee has no troubling answering the question and is not offended because Samuel asked the question. Samuel is a good man with pure, sincere, and transparent intentions. He does not clothe his questions in condescension.
Samuel casually discusses sins with Adam as he searches for water on Adam's land. He makes two remarks about sin: "the ways of sin are curious" and "they're the last things we give up." Which of the emerging theme(s) do these statements relate to? How do you think these two statements demonstrate or illustrate the theme(s)? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
Adam alludes to the story of Genesis. According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were created in God's likeness and were given lives free from sin and worry in the Garden of Eden. God's only request was that they never eat "the forbidden fruit"; the tree of knowledge. Eve was tempted by Satan disguised as a serpent, and Eve succumbs to temptation and invites Adam to join her. By eating the fruit of knowledge, they are exiled east of the Garden of Eden, to the Land of Nod, and must live with sin and all the other harsh realities of the world. It is there where they have their two sons Cain and Abel. When Samuel refers to Cathy as "Eve," does he simply mean that she is Adam's wife? Or does his tone imply a greater meaning? (This annotation contains a video)
When Adam explains that he wishes to build an Eden for Cathy because she brought light and goodness into his life, Samuel initially believes it is the duty of a friend to warn Adam against his actions and use better judgement. In what tone is Samuel's initial warning?
The imagery Steinbeck employs to describe Cathy eating is that of an animal or a serpent. Samuel then has a feeling of trepidation about Cathy.
Samuel asks Lee, "Is there something wrong here?" to which Lee replies in pidgin and then asks Samuel if he needs a cook. What does Lee's response reveal?
This is the second time Cathy tells Adam she does not want to be in California. Adam does not accept what she has to say. It is ironic that one of the few times that Cathy is honest, Adam believes her to be exaggerating. Adam's denial is a manifestation of his perception of Cathy and refusal to accept to see her for who she really is.
For what purpose does Samuel's memory of a public execution serve?
Liza Hamilton is an essential character in the story because she is static. Her beliefs are deep rooted and immutable. She also represents the belief in sin and the ramification of sin. Contrast her to Cathy's character to help you understand the themes of good versus evil and truth versus lies more clearly.
What does Liza's warning reveal about her feelings about Samuel's fortitude?
Steinbeck uses a form of antithesis here to delineate his point that he has deduced Cathy is a monster, but he has not determined what made her a monster. Antithesis uses parallel sentence structure and contrasting ideas to convey meaning and emphasize differences. This helps the reader to elicit meaning.
Why does Samuel intimate they keep their digging a secret from Liza?
Based on Lee's statement about men living alone and its impact on their perspective, do you think Adam and Lee are similar at all?
Steinbeck's use of light and dark are meant to set the ________ of the delivery.
Cathy is compared to a beast or a wild dog as she delivers the twins. There is something primordial about her countenance. She is disconnected and at the same time acutely aware of Samuel's proximity to her, so much so that she tears into his hand with her teeth. This scene is similar to scenes from the film The Exorcist or similar films about demonic possession.
The words, '"I don't like you,' "came out without [Samuel's] will." This indicates
Once again there is a contrast between light and dark. Light and dark are archetypes of the struggle between good and evil. Steinbeck utilizes the repetition of these archetypes and other symbols to create a motif. The motif of light and darkness assists the reader in understanding the theme of good and evil. View the video below for a definition of motif. (This annotation contains a video)
It is ________ that Liza does not trust Adam or Cathy but she has faith that Lee will take care of the babies.
Cathy's departure and shooting Adam are not a deviation from her character. She plans and prepares then executes. But surprisingly, she does not shoot to kill Adam. She simply wounds him. Is that important? And secondly, Adam is not conscious of the twins' cries the entire time he was engaging Cathy. It is only when she is gone that he recognizes the sound and realizes he did not feed them. Adam's vision is myopic; he neglects his children.
After Cathy leaves, Adam suspends work at the farm. You can infer he does this because
When Horace sees Adam lying in bed, he compares him to "death still breathing." What is the figurative interpretation of this image?
The shame Adam feels is visible and palpable. Horace believes Adam is being coy, but it is really his embarrassment and the impact of reality crushing his delusion that is the cause for the ambiguous answers.
Steinbeck describes Will Hamilton as a man with an "aura of success about him." Will would be successful and no one doubted that. Steinbeck concludes "some people exude their futures, good or bad." Do you think this logic applies to other characters in the text? Use textual evidence to support your answers.
Cathy's scar distinguishes her from other people. It is as if she is a marked woman. Like Charles, they both had something inside of them that rendered them cold and indifferent at times. Their scars are not the only thing that connects them.
Read the highlighted text. What is Samuel warning Adam will occur if he does not move on with his life?
Steinbeck compares the advent of the whorehouses with the advent of churches in the West. Is he attacking the idea of religion? Or is he noting the "sister evangelism" of the two entities to illustrate how people are attracted to certain activities for the same reasons: to find some sort of salvation and belonging?
Faye is known for her caring and motherly nature toward the girls that worked in her house. Ultimately, her girls are a reflection upon her. She didn't want trouble or any other illegal activities occurring under her roof, so she met with local authorities and kept them abreast of happenings. Over time, Faye's diligence and attitude granted her upstanding status in Salinas. When Faye hires Kate, it is an example of ___________ because the readers are aware that Kate's nature is antithetical of Faye's.
Kate admires the sheriff because he is direct and frank. These are the same qualities she admired in Charles. She appreciates people who can see past the visage she parades around for the sake of self-preservation and see her for the troubled person she is.
Pinkham was invented by Lydia Pinkham. It was a tonic made of herbal supplements and alcohol that was advertised for women as a relief from menstrual pain. (This annotation contains an image)
How is Kate able to manipulate Faye?
Kate is very circumspect in terms of her long term plans for Faye. Though she knows she has Faye's trust and is now considered her daughter, she waits until she has manipulated every person and every situation before executing her final move.
When Faye reveals her will to Kate and discloses the cash and securities she has amassed, Kate asks about the familial ramifications of being named the benefactor to Faye's estate. Why does Kate inquire about Faye's family?
This scene is a parallel to the scene in Part I of the text. When Mr. Edwards gave Catharine champagne, she revealed her true feelings about him and that is how she was almost murdered. You would think she would learn from her mistakes, but all characters must have a tragic flaw. For Kate, it is the effects of alcohol.
Why is Kate so concerned about Faye?
Kate's tactics very simple: allow others to seemingly do your dirty work for you. She plants ideas, starts rumors, and manipulates those who she can outwit in order to appear innocent. In truth, she is like a puppeteer.
How is Kate's illness a part of her grander plan? Based on the evidence you have read thus far, what is Kate's plan?
If Kate used her powers for good instead of evil, the world would be a better place. Kate is able to motivate the girls and staff using subtle reverse psychology. She does this with an ulterior motive: to establish certain parameters to avoid appearing guilty or culpable.
Each step Kate takes is part of her plan. Remember whose idea it was to start canning and preserving foods.
If Kate's plan was to poison Faye, why does Kate become ill as well?
Steinbeck describes Adam's state of mind as "clothed in viscosity" that occasionally "fought its way upward" to the light. Darkness and light are reoccurring __________ in the text.
Samuel did not intend on intervening in Adam Trask's depression. Liza is correct when she observed that Samuel doesn't change Adam; Adam's mood impacts Samuel. But when Samuel finds out that the boys are not named, he must intervene. For Christian children to go unnamed is blasphemous.
Why does it bother Liza that Samuel reads the Bible to understand it and not just accept the Testament?
For the first time in the text, we see Samuel enraged. He points out that Adam has "bought" many aspects of his life, his identity, and his character. He did not buy the twins. He was given them and must love them. When Adam protest and says he has had enough love "to kill me," Samuel responds by punching Adam twice. What is the root of the conflict between Samuel and Adam? Is it simply over naming the children?
When Samuel strikes Adam, it is as if he has broken Adam out of a trance. The result is that Adam feels
When Adam reveals to Samuel that Cathy did shoot him, he tells him that he knows she did not intend to kill him. He is almost disappointed that she did not try to kill him because "that would have been a kind of love." There is a belief that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Love and hate both require some level of concern or care, but indifference means you are apathetic to the person, item, or situation. Because Cathy shot him just to escape the situation, she did not care much about Adam. She didn't hate him enough to kill him. She didn't care at all what happened to him.
Samuel believes that "greatness must be the loneliest state in the world," and he knows he does not have the courage to be great. Can you identify a great person from the twenty-first century? Does that individual live a life of solitude either literally or figuratively? Explain.
The men discuss the story of Cain and Abel while trying to name the twins. The themes of brotherhood and the nature of good and evil are explored through the parallels between Adam and Charles and now with Adam's twin sons. The parable of Cain and Abel echoes throughout the text many times. It is another motif.
Based on the allusion to the parable, Salinas Valley symbolizes
Christians believe they are descendants of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve. Due to this lineage, it is also accepted that each generation inherited sins. Adam and Eve commit the first known sin by eating the forbidden fruit. Cain commits the first murder known to man. In Exodus, Book 34, verses 6-7 God says to Moses "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation." Is this belief proven true through the actions of our characters? Or does each generation prosper in spite of the sins of its fathers?
Reread the highlighted passage. In what tone does Samuel speak to Adam?
When Una dies, there is something that dies in Samuel as well. Maybe it was the way her body appeared at her death; as if her aesthetic decay reflected lack of spirit left in her. Samuel is riveted by Una's death, because unlike Liza who "had no real hope this side of Heaven," Samuel feels he is in someway responsible for not maintaining a bond with his daughter.
By comparing himself to his father, Tom will never be as smart, eloquent, or happy. This ________ will cause Tom much grief throughout his life.
Steinbeck is known for his use of sensory imagery in many of his texts. View the video below for a full definition of imagery. As Steinbeck recalls memories of his family, he utilizes the five senses to create the image for the reader. He remembers his grandfather's voice, but he cannot recall his Uncle Tom's voice - only a "warm silence." Steinbeck can recall all of the sounds, smells, and sights associated with his uncle, but he cannot, for some reason, recall any voice associated with him; "he is dark and silent and hugely warm." This is an important element of characterization as well as use of figurative language. Steinbeck concludes that "Tom felt his darkness." Is Steinbeck equating Tom's silence with his darkness? (This annotation contains a video)
Samuel's children do not verbalize that they are all realizing that their father is an old man. There is something excruciating about accepting your parents are not as capable as they once were. Many people see their parents as invincible on a subconscious level. People do not plan on losing a parent until they have to plan on losing a parent. A Dylan Thomas poem captures the emotions of a son who pleads with his father to fight death and not relent. Below is a link to "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." (This annotation contains a link)
Tom is upset and must leave when he reveals to his siblings that his father is dying of sorrow. His brother-in-law Will Martin offers to get him, but George Hamilton stops him and tells him to let Tom go. The "blood kin nodded" in agreement. Which quote best illustrates the relationship between Tom and his siblings?
When Samuel receives the letter, he reads it twice before approaching Liza about Olive's proposition. Based on the dialogue between Liza and Samuel, he seems eager to go on a "vacation." Do you think he knows the motivation behind the invitation?
What does Samuel mean when he says, "Tom, I know where I'm going, and I am content"?
Samuel knows he will not return, so he must visit Adam and Lee one last time. From the outsider's perspective, Lee and Samuel appear to be polar opposites, but their commonalities are much greater than their differences. Both men are philosophical, honorable, trustworthy, and loyal.
Samuel draws the conclusion that the Trask farm is fallow because Adam's life is fallow. What literary device is he employing?
Adam could never find it in himself to love his father because his father pushed Adam's limitations and forced him into a mold that Adam didn't believe he fit. Samuel, in a way, does the same thing to Adam by forcing him to accept, love, and name his children and to ultimately forget about Cathy to free Adam from her grasp. On some level, both men are father figures to Adam, but Adam loves Samuel.
______________ is when a person compares translations of text to examine the influence word choice has on meaning.
Lee's comparisons of the translations leads to an interpretation of a Hebrew word "timeshel" which means "thou mayest." This implies God gave Cain free will to choose a life path. The idea of free will is the foundation in the struggle between good and evil. There is an old adage that Evil believes it will always surmount Good in the battle for humanity because men are given the power to choose their fates. Humans may choose to do right or wrong. Lee believes that the phrase "Thou mayest" is so powerful "it cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness." The dialogue between Lee, Samuel, and Adam about the significance of the Cain and Abel parable is essential to understanding the remaining conflicts and their resolutions.
Samuel uses the term "medicine" as a metaphor for
In Samuel's final speech to Lee, he illustrates the theme of Free Choice. All men are able to overcome their past, the sins of their families, and lastly overcome their own darkness. Each person has a choice to do good or to do evil. Samuel "exercised the choice" and by telling Adam the truth is forcing him to make a choice as well.
As the young boy delivers the telegram to Tom, the "gray water-bearing clouds sailed in... and their shadows slid under them on bright earth." This use of pathetic fallacy indicates the telegram was about
Adam attends Samuel's funeral in Salinas. He then proceeds to drink. Based on your knowledge of previous events, predict what Adam will do next.
When Faye ran the brothel, all the women who worked emulated Faye. Now that Kate runs the brothel, what do the women remind Adam of
As Kate prepares for Adam, she doesn't know what to anticipate so she plans for the worst. This is the only time Kate has been caught off guard by Adam in the text.
What hasn't Adam seen in Kate that he does now?
When Adam tells Kate that he finally sees her clearly and now she can forget his face, she becomes enraged. Why?
His freedom angers and enrages her.
Adam recognizes what Samuel saw in Kate. She didn't understand what it meant to be good because she is the embodiment of evil and therefore has contempt for others who are good. In John Milton's Paradise Lost he retells the battle for Heaven between God and Satan. In Paradise Lost the character Satan (or Lucifer as he is known when he was an angel) is also motivated by a desire for something he cannot have because he lacks an understanding of God's power. Prior to his fall from grace, Lucifer was a follower of God, but he wanted to be worshiped as a God. God casts him out of Heaven, and Lucifer begins a holy war with God to rule Heaven and Earth. It is then that he is known as Satan. Ultimately Satan creates his own Hell. Milton states, "The mind in its own place and in itself can make a heaven out of hell and a hell out of heaven." Do you think this theory applies to Kate? Below is an image based on the text Paradise Lost. (This annotation contains an image)
The last time Adam saw Kate, she shot him in the shoulder. When Adam discusses the shooting with Samuel years ago, he tells Samuel that Kate didn't intend on killing him because she didn't care enough about him to do so. Why does Kate wish to inflict pain on Adam now? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
After Samuel's funeral and his visit to Kate, Adam is like a new man who has entered the world. Reread the previous page and note the use of light and dark to describe Adam's mood.
The dynamic between Adam and Lee transitions from _________ to ___________ as the years go on.
Though the men develop a strong bond between them and trust one another, Adam is still realizing that for many years he didn't listen as well as he should have to Lee and didn't notice more subtle aspects of Lee's life. He didn't notice how lonely Lee was while working for Adam.
Steinbeck describes the twins using
Cal's personality is similar to his mother's in that he knows how to find a person's weakness and use it to his advantage. In this case, he knows that the fate of their mother and the questioning of Adam's and Lee's integrity extremely bothers Aron. Cal will save this for when he truly wants to hurt Aron but not now.
Based on the boys' reactions to the unexpected visitors, you can infer
Steinbeck includes characters for a purpose. In this case, the Bacons' visit ignites a need for Adam to plan a trip and change routine. This attempt to contact Charles will spark a series of events that will impact Adam and his sons greatly.
The two female characters that are associated with the boys thus far are Kate and Abra. What qualities, if any, do they share?
The key difference between the boys is that "Aron was content to be a part of his world, but Cal must change it." Is this paralleled anywhere else in the story?
Steinbeck reveals that Cal "punished because he wished he could be loved as Aron was loved." This is an allusion to
The rifle Cal refers to is figurative. He has the most damaging weapon of any weapon there is. What is it?
Unlike Aron, Cal has doubts about his mother's fate. He knows there is a possibility that she is alive somewhere. He is also aware that revealing this to Aron would irrevocably damage him. What precipitates him to ask about his mother's grave?
Adam struggles with telling the truth about Kate because he wants to protect the twins' innocence. Unfortunately the paradox is if the boys find out Adam has lied, he will destroy their innocence anyway.
Using a Venn diagram, compare and contrast Lee's mother and Kate. What can you deduce about Lee's mother based on this exercise?
The animalistic imagery used to desribe Lee's mother's death and his birth is powerful. Ironically, because of her death, Lee is born. She instructs Lee's father to save Lee and then dies. Though Lee never knew her, he knew she loved him. That is an important piece of a strong foundation for an individual.
A proper analogy to explain how difficult it was for Adam, his sons, and Lee to start and drive their car for the first time would be
In what tone does Joe the mechanic tell the men that he went to "automobile school in Chicago... that's a real school- not like no college"?
Steinbeck includes the ordeal with the car to illustrate the difficulty some have with modernization. Throughout the text, whether it was Samuel patenting items or Olive Steinbeck flying in a plane, modernization is an obstacle that society has contend with.
How does Charles's death create an internal conflict for Adam?
Cal's feelings for Aron are an amalgamation of love for his brother and love of what Cal can exert over his brother. He only respects Lee because Lee knows him better and outwits him.
A reason the boys respect Lee more than their father may be because
As Lee and Adam debate about whether or not to tell Kate about the inheritance, Lee comes to the conclusion that Adam doesn't have a choice about what he will do. What does Lee imply about Adam's character?
Cal's prayers illustrate his
In the dialogue between Kate and Adam about Charles's will, Kate searches for Adam's ulterior motive for revealing to her its existence. When Adam replies that she should do what she wants about the will and that he feels safe, Kate retorts, "you're a fool." This exchange reiterates
There is a saying that "it is always the thief who thinks he is being robbed." Because Kate is not a benevolent person and is often engaged in covert affairs, she is distrustful of anyone who appears to be pure of heart.
After Samuel's death, Liza remains at Olive's home. When Adam visits her, he develops a "warm admiration for her gallantry." Why does Adam perceive her to be gallant?
Will does not want Dessie to move back to the ranch, and he will intervene and try to prevent her from doing so. What worries Will about returning to the ranch?
Steinbeck characterizes Dessie as "beloved," and "the darling." She radiated joy and was the impetus for laughter for anyone in her presence. Dessie was most similar to
There is a conflict between Dessie and Will, but it is not simply about moving back to the ranch. Will is distrustful of Tom because Tom is different from Will in many ways. Tom is more like Samuel in the way he invents and searches for understanding beyond the surface of things. Unlike Samuel, Tom is dark. Dessie is also like Samuel; "she carries excitement in her arms." She is able to make people feel at ease and bring them joy. What does Will fear may happen to Dessie? Why?
Tom tells Dessie that having her on the ranch "makes me feel I'm well from a sickness." Based on this statement, what can you infer about Tom's motive for wanting Dessie on the ranch? Does he care about Dessie's well-being? Using evidence from the previous chapters to answer the following question.
Dessie surveys the empty Hamilton home and remembers a story about her father raising pigeons. He was warned to purchase gray pigeons because white pigeons bring sadness and death. Defiantly, Samuel purchases white pigeons anyway. Did the birds fulfill their prophecy?
Dessie wants to "climb out of [her] gray ragbag." By contemporary standards, Dessie may be considered
Dessie realizes that the limitations Tom feels in his life are all self-imposed. Unlike his brother Will, Tom stood in his father's shadow and never tried to escape it. Even now, the largest obstacle Tom has to overcome to attain happiness is himself. Dessie believes that she, like her father, can help release Tom from his prison. Do you think she has that ability?
Because Will and Tom are so different, they don't understand one another's approach to business. Will had a difficult time supporting Tom's ideas without dissecting them to forge a better version of the original. Tom had a difficulty understanding why Will could not see the benefits outweighed the downsides to his plan. Ironically, both men are motivated by their _________ for each other.
Dessie's intestinal condition is exacerbated by the "salts" Tom gives her, and results in her death. Tom's state of mind prior to Dessie's death was adulterated by his feelings of inferiority. After Dessie's funeral, Tom personifies the seven deadly sins as his "accusers." He is creating his own Hell that he cannot escape.
Tom decides that he has been dead for quite some time and that he should take his own life. Why then, does Steinbeck characterize him as a "gallant gentleman"?
Thomas Foster states, "There is only truly one story. Everywhere. Always." According to Steinbeck, that one story is the "net of good and evil" because it is the only story that "occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence."
Steinbeck includes the examples of the three men's deaths to convey what message about good and evil? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
When Lee decides he will leave, he once again demonstrates his understanding of the boys. He admits to Adam, "if they pretended sorrow they'd be liars." He is not insulting the twins, but he sees them (and others) for who they are. He and Adam are opposites in this way.
One of the impetuses for Lee wanting to leave Adam and the boys is because a servant's life is lonely. Adam admitted he didn't value Lee's contributions and presence as much as he should have and agreed to let Lee go. Upon Lee's return, just six days later, Lee is glad to be home because he has "never been so goddamn lonesome in [his] life." This is an example of which literary device?
In some ways, Aron has an unfair advantage in life over Cal. Aron's angelic appearance allows him to hide any negative tendencies, such as his ability to fight, and as a result, he is loved by many who meet him. On the other hand, Cal's dark appearance combined with his "cleverness" conveys a sinister quality about Cal. As a result, many people do not trust him or are standoffish with him. Though the preconceived notions about the twins seems unfair when they are young, Cal will be better off in the long run.
Abra and Aron's "game" seems strange, but it parallels
As Abra speaks softly to Aron and tells him to reveal his secret, she utilizes tone to _________ him.
To Abra, the idea of finding Aron's mother is a romantic notion like something she reads in a fairytale. She does not comprehend the ramifications that discovering Aron's mother alive will have for him and his family. Aside from finding out his mother is a whore, Aron will lose complete trust and faith in the only parents he does have - Adam and Lee.
Why does Aron say aloud, "My mother is dead. She's buried some place in the East"?
Will Hamilton plays an important role in the second half of the story; he is a voice of reason. Will has the ability to guide others to do the right thing. The reader sees this in Will's interactions with Dessie, Tom, and now, Adam.
What does Adam mean when he says, "Lee hasn't wiped my nose yet, but that will come"? After many years together, the men have grown to be confidants. Separately they evolved as well. How would you characterize the current relationship between Adam and Lee?
When Will tells Adam, "I got excited," the word excited most nearly means
For the second time in the text, first by Samuel, and now by the businessmen of Salinas, Adam is characterized using his inheritance to buy himself a life. In this case, a life in business. Will Hamilton does not find joy in Adam's failure but pities him for not trusting him in the first place and for being a dreamer.
Abra's father does not want her engaged to Aron now that he does not have money. Is Abra's father simply a jerk or does he have a point? What does he want for his daughter?
The rift between Aron and Cal is growing as they grow older. As children, they were inseparable twins. But as they mature, make other relationships, and develop individual strengths and weaknesses, they will continue to grow apart rather than closer.
Cal "collects" fragments of conversations and pieces together the truth about his mother. He knows she is alive, and he also knows Aron would not want to know about her. Steinbeck notes that "if Aron had heard the fragments he would not have known." What does that statement convey about Cal and Aron?
When Cal asks about his mother, Lee is completely honest. Lee must be veracious because he knows Cal. Cal would not ask unless he already knew some answers.
When Lee reveals to Cal that his father figuratively died when his mother left him, Cal's countenance resembles Aron despite the difference in coloring. This conveys
Aron's innocence solely defines his character. Could it be that he becomes deeply involved in church matters and purity in order to ward off any experiences that may taint his innocence? If so, than he is aware of his innocence. If he is aware of his naivete, than how can he be considered so innocent?
When Cal is arrested for gambling, Adam does not beat him but asks, "I've failed you, haven't I?" Why is this question, "worse than an attack" to Cal?
In the Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, Brutus is apologetic to his friends for not celebrating with them. He says, "But let not therefore my good friends be grieved-- Among which number, Cassius, be you one-- Nor construe any further my neglect, Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war, Forgets the shows of love to other men" (I.2 lines 43-47). Brutus is acknowledging that his own internal conflict is impacting his interaction with those he cares about. In this case, Cal could be speaking the lines verbatim.
In the highlighted passage, Steinbeck personifies Cal's inner emotions to emphasize
Cal's conversation with his father results in Cal's self-appointed roles as "guardian of his father's content" and spy on the enemy, his mother. He wants to be prepared and prevent his mother from destroying his father again. Though Cal is mature in many ways and a realist about many things, he is naive when he believes that his father can be hurt again.
When Kate looks at Cal, "a dim remembered picture of Charles leaped into her mind." Based on her feelings about Charles, you can infer that
When Cal reveals to Kate that he loves his father, a "spasm shook her," and she wishes to use Cal's love for his father to manipulate him. But Kate's plan will not work on Cal because he is a part of her on some level. Rather than answering her questions, he persists with his own.
Kate believes Cal reminds her of Charles, but when Cal tells her that he doesn't think the light hurts her eyes, he believes she is afraid, who is he reminiscent of?
Ethel's "dream" is not a dream at all. It is her uneducated way of telling Kate that she knows and may even have proof that Kate murdered Faye. At this point in the text, Kate has made very few errors in her plans. Ethel is unexpected. Can she be Kate's downfall?
The physical manifestation of Kate's downfall is her
Kate's entire life is built upon a belief in the "ugliness of people." As she grows older, this belief and its converse - her fear of what she cannot understand in people: their goodness - is causing her to become more hermit-like and paranoid.
Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 with the use of the slogan "He kept us out of war." Ironically, his second term is most noted for the United States engagement in WWI. WWI was a very unpopular war with the people of the United States. Prior to WWI, the international policies of United States were rooted in isolationism. It isn't until the sinking of the Lusitania that America enters the war. Unlike WWII where the nation's involvement pulled the US out of a recession and many publicly supported a stance against the "-isms": Communism, Fascism, Nazism, people in the United States suffered during WWI. They lost their loved ones and saw no benefit or gain. This was a somber time in US history. Below is a link for more information about the infamous sinking of the Lusitania. (This annotation contains a link)
Lee's willingness to give Cal his life savings without knowing what the money will be used for represents
Cal approaches Will Hamilton because he trusts Will Hamilton's judgement. Will is inclined to help Cal, because Will sees the same quality reflected in Cal that he sees in himself. Will is not a dreamer or gifted as he believes the rest of his family to be. Instead, Will's role in the family was caretaker and protector of the dreamers.
What quality does Will admire in Cal?
Will admires Cal and feels a kinship with him. Cal is grateful to Will for helping him help Adam. Unfortunately, Will and Cal are both blinded by the business opportunity that they do not consider Adam's reaction to Cal's handout.
Steinbeck's Salinas society is a microcosm of the United States. When the Lusitania sank and innocent blood was shed, people across the US hastily supported the war efforts. Once soldiers returned home in body bags and the war was not won, people had heavier hearts and were less supportive of the efforts. Attached is the sheet music to a popular WWI song by Al Jolson titled "So Long, Mother." Read the lyrics and identify the tone of the song. (This annotation contains an image)
Adam is extremely proud when he is told Aron will be graduating a year early. He wishes Cal had the same ambition. This is an example of
The woman that Mr. Rolf would like to reform is Kate. Why is she attending church?
When Cal realizes Aron did not tell his father he passed the exams and is not planning on celebrating with his family but with Mr. Rolf instead, Cal wants to "beat the hell out of him." Cal cannot understand how his brother can be so indifferent to his father. This parallels which conflict?
What is the root of Adam's conflict with his father? Does Lee understand? If so, why does he tell him to "go through the motions"?
When Aron goes off to college, he still remains isolated with Abra, but Abra expands her circle of friends. She becomes attached to the Trask family, with the exception of Cal because she doesn't know if he likes her. Do you think Aron's perpetual isolation and Abra's inclusion of others into her world will cause a conflict for them when Aron returns?
Abra believes that she is not good enough for Aron because "he's made someone up" and labeled her Abra. Which character does Aron resemble?
The dialogue between Abra and Lee is extremely important because Abra outlines exactly who Aron is and what his tragic flaw is. He, like his father when he met Kate, does not have any vision of the reality around him. Abra attributes this to not having a mother, but it not due to a lack of feminine influence that Adam is naive. Adam chooses to be segregated from reality. Unfortunately, no matter what life you have created for yourself in your mind, reality will creep in and damage the beauty of your ideal world. Can you think of other times when Adam has been forced to see the world for what it is? What was his response?
Why does Abra finally confide in Cal about her feelings about Aron?
Do not be confused by this chapter. Steinbeck is using a subplot to assist the reader in understanding the final events of the text. Subplots differ from parallel plots. In this case, the parallel plots of Samuel Hamilton and his family and Adam Trask and his family merge to form one large story. They are equally important. A subplot is a series of events or a secondary character's story that perpetuates the main plot's storyline or develops characters or conflicts.
Kate created a world in which the people who serve her live in constant fear of Kate and what she is capable of doing, but they also depend on Kate to keep them safe because she does. As a result, the girls are mentally fragile. This can be problematic for someone who is not in paramount health and mental state. Which quote best summarizes Kate's problem as her ailments and paranoia worsen?
As Kate questions Joe, "Joe's mind worked quickly, not with reason but with experience and instinct." Joe, like Kate, is constantly looking to exploit a weakness in someone for his own benefit.
What does Kate say or do that causes Joe to want to use the Ethel situation to manipulate Kate?
Joe is like Kate in that they both look to exploit the weaknesses of others, but where Joe and Kate diverge is their view of the world. Kate never concerns herself with "breaks" because she creates her reality. Joe is so preoccupied with how the world has wronged him, that he cannot decide in which direction to move. He believes that this is his "break," but is he really getting a break or simply underestimating Kate?
As Kate thinks about departing Salinas and muses about throwing a party for her sons, she feels a "little collapsing pain" rising in her chest. In that moment Kate feels
Joe's comments to Kate have a grave effect on her. Joe is successful at manipulating her for now.
Why does Steinbeck include his personal story about his cruelty toward Mr. Fenchel?
Based on the highlighted passage, the acceptance of young men to serve in the army was like imparting a ____________ on them.
This exchange about responsibility and choice is important in terms of the text as a whole. Everyone makes choices and the consequences of those choices determine if a person should be held responsible or blamed. Lee says the difference between the two is that blame denotes "pleasant egotism." A responsibility is something beyond our scope and control; it is a choice that we must make. Consider how the motif of Cain and Abel is repeated to illustrate what men will do when given the choice. Charles would have killed Adam when they were young and Tom chose to kill himself and Will helped him hide the truth. What choices will Cal and Aron make when the time comes?
When Alf mentions Faye, Alf realizes that he has successfully manipulated Joe to stay and speak to him hoping Joe will reveal some gossip. From this act, one can infer that
In the past, Kate's tactics have always worked. She changes her tone, her visage, her words, and then the situation. In this case, why does Joe not believe Kate's melancholy and remorse?
Kate's necklace is like her escape hatch. If she is ever truly in peril, she can take the drugs in the necklace and disappear.
What do you think Steinbeck is trying to convey about time in the highlighted passage? How does the "preoccupation with small time units" relate to the text as a whole?
Aron is not comfortable in his own home. He was not comfortable in school either. It seems as if Adam doesn't know what he wants or what will make him happy. He is very much like Adam after he was discharged from the service.
During Aron and Cal's conversation, Cal can be characterized as more _________ than Aron.
Cal's inner demons are triggered by his jealousy of his brother. Cal believes Adam loves Aron because he resembles their mother but is that the case? Is there more to the relationships with both boys and their father than Cal realizes? What is the cause of Cal's self-deprecation?
Lee pontificates that "maybe knowledge is too great and maybe men are growing too small." This illustrates the motif of
When Adam looks at the gift Cal gives him and tells him that he will have to give it back, it is as if Adam tells Cal
The entire evening and the anticipation leading up to the evening are disastrous. Adam does not realize the impact his words have on Cal. When Cal's gift is rejected so is the dream he had to be valued and possibly adored by his father. This is not Aron's fault, but Cal does not know how to properly deal with his anger. The proceeding events will be the point of no return for the Trask family.
Joe believes that Kate staring and thinking has something to do with the Ethel predicament, but in reality, it has to do with meeting her son Aron and the fallout from the encounter. This is an example of
Joe has overplayed his hand. Kate is already one step ahead of him. The interaction with her son Aron and the cruelty of Cal's actions strikes a chord with her. For the first time in the text, there is something different about Kate's emotional response. She is not even sure what it is.
For the first time, Kate's tears are a genuine emotional response to what?
In Kate's preparations for suicide, she writes a will and leaves everything she owns to Aron but not Cal. Why?
Prior to finding Kate's corpse, Joe believes he must leave and not look back. When he finds Kate dead, his mood changes and he intends to flee but take all of Kate's money with him.
The sheriff is characterized as an "institution." This implies
The sheriff's beliefs and sorrow set the mood for the following series of events. There will be sorrow in the Trask household.
Adam's reaction to Kate's death is for
When God went in search of Abel, he asked Cain where his brother was, and Cain replied, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Which quote best captures Cal's reaction to seeking revenge on his brother?
Why does Cal burn his money?
Throughout the text Cal and those around him have claimed that he was the realist of the brothers; he could handle the knowledge about his mother when Aron couldn't. What does Lee's diatribe reveal?
Steinbeck does not limit description of the setting to the exposition because he needs to illustrate the culture the Trask family lived in. When Aron enlists for the war, it is as if he has signed his death certificate. Aron does not see the severity of his actions, because Aron was looking for an escape, just as school was an escape. Adam is aware of this and is physically and emotionally effected.
Why does Lee refer to Cal's remark about deserving to be killed "the cheapest kind of self-indulgence"?
Why does Aron instruct Abra to stay away from his father? Use the dialogue between Cal and Abra to assist you in forming your response. Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
Abra's explanation of Aron is exquisite. She completely understands how his denial of reality allowed him to function.
Cal and Abra's _______ about Aron allow them to become close.
Throughout the text there are many instances where richness and poorness are addressed. Consider which characters were truly rich and which characters were rich "poor bastards."
When Lee tells Abra, "sometimes the strangest medicines are effective" in seeking her parents' approval of Cal, he is implying her parents are
"Claveles" means carnations in Spanish. In Mexico, the word for marigold is derived from the Virgin Mary and are still used on the Day of the Dead celebrations. Marigolds represent grief, cruelty and jealousy in floral arrangements.
Based on Lee's attentiveness to Adam, caring for his health, and his research on his condition, it can be stated that
Abra reveals that her father is in trouble to reiterate to Cal that he is not unique in his feelings of darkness and inadequacy.
When Lee states, "Nobody has the right to remove any single experience from another. Life and death are promised," one can infer the telegram is about
The news of Aron's death is the impetus for Adam's second stroke. Cal is distraught and now contends with the guilt he feels for Aron's death and his father's ailment. Is Cal to blame for this situation? Is he responsible?
Why does Lee try to reassure Cal that his father's vision is primarily affected by the stroke?
Cal believes his father's eyes communicated to him blame and shame, but once again it is Cal projecting his own feelings onto the world.
In Lee's final attempts to get through to Cal and help alleviate his guilt, he tries to explain to Cal that no matter what he has done, what his brother did, or what his parents did, God never stops trying to make the next generation better. Cal is not a victim of heritage. He does not have to be his mother, or his father, or his brother's murderer.
Lee decides that he must lead Cal into his father's room to seek forgiveness or at least be told that he is not alone in his guilt. Adam's response is a a single word, "Timshel!" Why?