Literary Analysis of East of Eden
The Author and His/ Her Times: The author of East of Eden is John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was born in Salinas California, one of the settings in East of Eden. His mother, a former school teacher, and helped him build his passion for reading and the written word. He speaks of her and her family in his book. They play a vital role in the progression of the book. Many of Steinbeck’s novels could be classified as social novels. His novels usually deal with economic problems in rural labor. You can see this reflected in his novels as they are used to help tell the story. In east of Eden Steinbeck uses history two tell of two families the Trask’s and the Hamilton’s, which are his own family. Before Steinbeck became famous for his works, he first tried to be a free lance writer in New York but failed and returned to California. Form/Structure, Plot: East of Eden is organized through many different means. Throughout the book there are multiple individual stories that as the story move’s they all intertwine together. Also the whole book is based around the idea of Timshel. Timshel is a word that is translated to “Thou mayest”, which gives man the choice of good or evil. This is used in each of the individual stories for each of the characters as they make their choices. This is focused in on the main story and it shows how the individual stories change the main one throughout the plot. As it starts as simple and moves to a more complex intriguing story plot. The chapters tend to introduce you to the main focus that it intends to focus on, by Steinbeck opening you up to things you wouldn’t normally think on. But it grabs your attention, to where you continue to ponder on what he says as you read through the chapter. To better understand here is a brief outline of the books plot.
East of Eden tells the stories of the Trask’s and the Hamilton’s and through three generations over the span of almost 60 years. It begins in the Salinas Valley in California, starting with the Hamilton family, and how they came from Ireland to California. Then it continues on to The Trask Family living on a farm in Connecticut. Civil War veteran, Cyrus Trask, becomes a powerful man in the War Department in Washington, and talk about his two sons Adam and Charles with childhood disagreements and fights. Cyrus later on forces Adam in to the army. Soon thereafter introduces Cathy Ames, as Steinbeck describes her as a monster, because she killed her parents and then becomes a prostitute; is the nearly beat to death by her employer, and crawls to the Trask farm. Adam falls in love with her and marries her not knowing her past. Adam moves with Cathy to California, and buys land With Samuel Hamilton’s help. He has twin boys, Aron and Caleb. Cathy Shoots Adam in the shoulder and goes back to being a prostitute. Boys grow up not knowing their mother. They eventually see her, Aron is horrified by this and joins the army and dies. Adam has a severe stroke and on his death bed tells Caleb Timshel. Point of View/Perspective: As a reader the information you get the story is mostly through the narrator. You also get brief characteristics by how the characters act through the story. Through the story the main characters become more and more developed. As this continues you learn more of their individual personalities. This way you see the story from all angles. The perspective continually shifts from first person to third person omniscient. It does this as it goes from the character to the narrator. The characters fill you in on the small things and the narrator fills you in on a larger scale. This is very effective because you get to see two different views of the story. In its own way it helps you to better understand what is happening in the story to all the characters. Character: Each of the main characters is highly developed as you learn about them through the story. Some are more devoted to than other such as Adam Trask...
Cited: Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.
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