East of Eden: John Fontenrose Response
The basis for the story of good and evil is most often the Christian biblical stories in the book of Genesis. The classic battle of good and evil with good always triumphant over evil often stretches farther out and into our many cultures. This archaic tale is ever prevalent in all of mankind’s greatest stories in many different variations. John Steinbeck often brings this struggle to different methods of thought especially on how we view evil, as well as good. He brings this story to light using the everyday, common man in his books, Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and now East of Eden to portray the realistic side of the battle of good and evil. Many will argue that he does not have a very clear goal for presenting this idea including, John Fontenrose, in his literary criticism, “John Steinbeck: An Introduction and Interpretation” but it is quite the opposite. In John Steinbeck’s book, East of Eden, The stories of the Hamilton and Trask families get intertwined along with many other people as the theme of good and evil unfolds on them on farmland in both Salinas, California and in Connecticut. Towards the beginning of the book the good characters, Alice and Adam and the bad characters, Cyrus and Charles are clear to the reader but as the novel progresses the concept of “timshel” is introduced which redefines the concept of predestination versus free will and changes the course of each character’s limitations for better and for worse. In East of Eden Steinbeck is not unclear on his position of good and evil, rather he puts forward the way this mindset has changed over time and gives his own methodology on how the struggle of good and evil should be thought of.
Often times Steinbeck shows the realism in this book with many archetypes that are not perfect and alter from time to time. This makes it hard for some people to understand his reasoning like, John Fontenrose, as he neglects this concept when he states that the...
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