Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer of Reading: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I had to read four books this summer for AP English. This is the first book I read this summer and I decided to finally review it.:)


East of Eden by John Steinbeck

4.5 stars

East of Eden focuses on the lives of the Trasks and the Hamiltons. The Trasks have lived a life of brothers plagued to play out like Cain and Abel. The Hamiltons are a quaint, poor family in the Salinas Valley. That’s the best description of this book without giving anything away. Believe me; you don’t want to be spoiled for this book. This book is my favorite classic. I hold classics in a different regard to books published long ago (In Cold Blood is a classic and it’s a big favorite of mine, but it’s nonfiction so I hold it on a different standard). As a fictional classic, East of Eden is superb. Steinbeck is the classic writer of a good drama. This book is insanely dramatic. Yes, it’s lengthy. Are there a lot of unnecessary descriptions? Sure, but most of them have something relevant to the plot. Everything Steinbeck writes means something. I enjoyed every minute of this novel. It’s whirlwind ride of deception, psychos, bad brothers, and secrets. I have so much to praise and talk about but I don’t want to spoil anything or give too much away of the brilliance of Steinbeck’s characters.

A Breakdown of Characters:
There are so many characters in this novel and each of them are connected in some huge way to another. We have the main family line which starts with Adam. His mother killed herself when he was a baby and his father instantly remarried and fathered another son named Charles. Adam loved his brother, but Charles hated him because their father loved Adam more. This is a reference to Cain and Abel as their father being God because he is a high authority to them. Then we are introduced to a quaint but very poor family of Irish descent in the Salinas Valley. They seem to hold no point to the main story but later Adam meets Samuel Hamilton and they become fast friends. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with Samuel? He’s an awesome guy with good beliefs and has great perceptions of reality that he loves to discuss. Then we are introduced to Cathy. Cathy is the original psycho. She’s absolutely insane. Manipulative, deceitful, spiteful, and calculating; Cathy always has a plan and she wants money. Cathy somehow finds her way with the Trask brothers. Adam instantly falls for Cathy and she wraps him around her finger. They get married, but she sneaks into Charles’s bed. Then Cathy finds out she’s pregnant. Then chaos ensues. Whore houses are introduced, the Hamiltons slowly self-destruct, and Adam’s twin boys are pitted against each other constantly. My favorite characters of this novel were Lee, Samuel, Cathy, Adam, Caleb, and Abra. I love Lee because he shows the stereotypes towards Chinese people and also provides great philosophies and is a great second father to the boys. Samuel as I said before also is philosophical, but he’s a great father, inventor, friend, and person. Cathy is a horrible person, but I love how psychotic and crazy she is. I just love it. She made this novel for me. Without Cathy this novel wouldn’t have been nearly as fantastic. Adam is great because he offers a look at the war, homeless life, brokenhearted-ness, fatherhood without a mother to help, and a man with ideas that don’t seem to work. I love Caleb. He could be cruel to Aron, but he was also just a great character. I adored him and I can’t help but ship him with Abra. Abra is a little girl that Aron and Caleb met as children. Aron instantly falls for her and she likes him a lot more than Caleb. As they grow up though she begins to realize that Aron doesn’t see her, but what he wants her to be. Much like his father saw Cathy. It’s man’s greatest downfall to see things in a way completely different from the way they are.

Character Scale:10

I don’t think I have to spell this out for anyone, but people don’t seem to realize the most obvious comparison to Cain and Abel. The characters all have a C or A name: Cain and Abel, Charles and Adam, or Caleb and Aron. I just thought it was really cool of Steinbeck to be so straightforward with him saying this is who I’m allusioning.

I just really loved East of Eden. It’s a great literary piece, but it’s also a great drama. I highly recommend this if you love stories with plots, psychos, and philosophy.

Cover Thoughts: I love my cover of East of Eden. It’s how I pictured the Salinas Valley to look and I think the art is just beautiful. 

Have you read East of Eden? What are your thoughts on it? Let's rave about Cathy's insanity below!:D

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