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East of Eden Analysis Questions

Transcript of Eden Questions-Answers Included

Nicole Khachikian Pre AP English 8/27/12

East of EdenWorld Connection Questions 1. In what ways do the events in the book reveal evidence of the authors worldview? The novel explores the authors thoughts on topics like love, hate, family, war, society, nature, and lifestyle. Through Adam Trask we see the author feels war is pointless and cruel, Adam seems to prefer exploring the world and eventually settling down and making good use of his fortune rather than killing people he does not know. We can see the author has a great appreciation for nature through his detailed descriptions of the Salinas Valley. The narrator seems to love his family dearly and even speaks highly of the grandfather he hardly knew. The events in the novel reveal that the author has a moral outlook on life and is surrounded by societys influence.

2. According to this novel, what kind of behavior makes for lasting human worth or human waste? The novel East of Eden explores the relationship between good and evil and shows that one does not necessarily have to be good to be respected. The character Cathy or Kate is respected and feared because she makes her cleverness clear. She does not trust anyone and keeps to herself; her patience helps her succeed with her plans throughout the novel although her overall motive is not quite clear for most of the story. Samuel Hamilton, a

kinder character, is respected for not his money or intelligence but for his wisdom, charm, and success in raising his nine children. Cathy and Samuel may be viewed as opposite characters but they both show how one might be considered an important human being in society, both have human worth. Human waste can be represented by Charles Trask. Charles does not live his life to the fullest, no matter how comfortable he his financially he does not seem to serve a purpose as a human being. Life goes on just the same whether he farms on his land or dies and leaves his fortune to someone else.

3. What heroic ideal is implied by this novel? Describe it. The heroic ideal in this novel is different in each environment John Steinbeck explores. Adams father Cyrus, although a twisted and untruthful character, is looked up to in Washington D.C. because of his supposed military past. However, a military career may not be the most astounding past to have in a small town like Salinas where children are not expected to finish school and should instead work as farmers or find husbands; a school teacher is the most impressive occupation a daughter could have because it shows that a person chose to expand their knowledge in order to help others do the same. Overall there is one main quality that in all settings of the book is thought to be a respectable thing and that is to be wealthy. Like the quote from the novel: He became rich without pleasure and respected without friends one did not have to be a good human being to be respected in those times or perhaps even in the times we live in now.

4. To what extent is the individuals final outcome helped or hindered by forces outside his/her control? In the novel are these influences benignant (good), malignant (evil), or indifferent? What does this convey about humanity and society? Explain.

The novel East of Eden consistently explores the idea of good versus evil and the evil that is inside us. Cal battles the thought of being evil because it is in his blood from his mother but the Trasks wise servant reminds him that only you have control over yourself. No matter what happens to a person it is their ability to handle the situation and their reaction to it that really makes the difference. In conclusion it seems like these influences are indifferent.

5. To what extent are the ideas expressed in the novel based on the concept of a guiding tendency, force, spirit, or God in the universe? If the author of the novel has implied such a force or being, what are its attributes and what is its relationship to man? (If more than one view seems to be expressed, describe each view and explain the authors apparent preference.) Religion plays a large yet subtle role in the novel. Many characters are greatly influenced by Christianity others by motivation and self-gain. Characters like Mrs. Hamilton base their daily lives on the bible. In the discussion between Samuel and Adam about what to name his twin boys, they base their opinions on names on people who were named that before. They think the person should live up to their name or become even greater according to what biblical person had that name.

6. Explain one specific aspect of the culture described in the novel. How does this compare to a specific culture with which you are familiar?

A culture described in East of Eden would be society. Unlike most of the characters in the story Cal and Aron have to live through their adolescence in the city, they are ridiculed in school for their fathers failure. Society is something that no matter the place or time period, everyone has to deal with its influence.

7. Find one specific idea, event, or behavior in your novel that relates to real life. Explain the relationship you see. What does this illustrate about the 21st century world? I believe that the idea of jealousy that John Steinbeck displays in this novel is extremely realistic. It is easy for me to compare myself to Cal, although I do not struggle with it as much as he does, I do deal with jealousy. This is something I think many can relate to especially because it is a characteristic that will exist no matter the century.

Open-Ended Questions 1. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why do you think you felt this way? The idea that we are realistically surrounded by people or, more accurately, monsters like Cathy Ames, is an uncomfortable thought to me. It is frightening that there are human beings that kill and do evil for no apparent reason. A murder is cruel enough, let alone a murder without purpose.

2. Did these feelings lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before? Explain either way. My awareness of this evil has always existed, maybe even more so than in others. My new understanding was in learning about how the mind of a monster works. Cathy explains that she does not believe that genuine good and kindness exists in anyone.

3. What questions of probability arise in this novel? In other words, think of two or three events in the novel, which would be most unlikely in ordinary life; show how the likelihood of these events is established in the novel, or how their occurrence may be artistically justified. In general, are the events of this novel made sufficiently probable to support its total design? The idea that the narrator, John Steinbeck, knew so much about the affairs of the Trask family and Cathy is quite improbable to me, especially with the little association that he had with his grandfather Samuel Hamilton who would have been his only connection to the Trasks besides maybe town gossip. Some might think that it was unusual that all the families connected in some way by the end of the novel, I think it depends on a persons belief in fate. All the character, although unclear in the beginning, positively affected each other in some way; I think this occurrence follows the saying: everything happens for a reason.

4. What specific social problems does the author seem to regard as unsolved?

The idea that an evil done by one person is passed on to generations to come is expressed in the passing down of money that was not earned properly. It seems as though that even when Aron and Cal are older this problem remains unsolved.

5. What causes seem to be mainly responsible for these social problems and why? The causes of these problems come from the evil that is being done. If Cyrus and Cathy had righted their wrongs their evil would not have been passed down to their children. Although, these characters would have had to believe that what they had done was wrong first before they could turn their lives around.

6. From where is one led to believe the solution may come for these social problems? Explain. To solve a problem that involves evil, the person must first fix their mistakes. The solution for this problem will come from a fresh start which Aron may have had if he had survived the war. No one can successfully embrace the future if they are followed by a negative past.

7. Evaluate the relative importance in influencing the outcome of the novel for the following: i. Physical aspects The physical similarities between Cathy and Aron led to the unusual decision on Cathys part to leave all she owned to only Aron. One would not expect her to leave her belongings to anyone let alone one of the sons

she abandoned. Their resemblance leads to the reader reviewing his or her thoughts on Cathy.

ii. Nature The Garden of Eden is the garden of God", it was described as paradise. The novels name seems to point out that when things seem to be going well for a character tragedy strikes and none of the families are able to live in peace, they are just east of happiness and never seem to successfully reach it. The author uses many details to describe Salinas Valley which is supposedly east of Eden.

iii. Biological make-up Cal struggles to break away from the thought that he is connected to his mother and therefore is evil. In reality he is the master of his own life and because he tries so hard to be good he is the very opposite of his mother.

iv. Intimate personal relationships Aron leaves for the army because he cannot bear the news of his mother; this decision proves to Abra that Aron is in a fantasy world of his own which pushes her closer to Cal. She admits to herself and Cal that she loves him because he struggles with being moral all the time lik