Biblical Symbolism in East of

Topics: East of Eden, Good and evil, Book of Genesis Pages: 3 (1340 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Biblical Symbolism in John Steinbeck’s work East of Eden John Steinbeck is considered to be one of the most talented American writers of all time. Most of his works are regarded highly by critics and celebrated as magnificent forms of twentieth-century literature. Steinbeck’s style remains consistent throughout many of his works; he almost always incorporates the Bible. There are few better examples of Steinbeck’s style than East of Eden. Throughout Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden, he exercises the use of many biblical references to illustrate clearly his views pertaining to the conflict of good and evil. Much of the plot of East of Eden is centered upon the two sets of brothers representing Cain and Abel. Both pairs are similar to Cain and Abel in the way they go about winning their fathers’ favors. All four give gifts to their fathers, and the fathers dismiss the gifts of Charles and Caleb, the Cain representations (Marks, Jay Lester. p.121). Caleb and Charles Trask are obviously the more malignant brothers. They are also the more loving towards their father. Steinbeck’s purpose in this is to illustrate the need of the Cain character in the story. Abel, Adam and Aron, is the opposite of his brother and naturally good and pure. The purpose of Adam and Aron in East of Eden is to clarify the belief that purity must know wickedness (Marks, Jay Lester. p.122). Steinbeck illustrates the need for both good and bad with the actions and beliefs of these supposed “good” characters. The representations of Abel, Adam and Aron are both described as unloving. Adam has not treated his children fairly and his treatment is caused by his innate goodness. Aron grows as an ignorant selfish person because he is naturally good (Fonterose, Joseph. p. 3382). Steinbeck uses Cain to illustrate the choice man has. In the case of Charles, Cain dies an unhappy man who did not live a worthwhile life, Caleb on the...
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