• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

John Steinbeck's Theme in East of Eden

Extracts from this document...


East of Eden The production of a first "major novel" is a pivotal point in the career of a writer. John Steinbeck's first major book, East of Eden, is a story which is woven into human nature. Steinbeck's theme in East of Eden displays human's ability to triumph over evil and explores the choices they make to do so. In the novel East of Eden, Steinbeck uses strong characters to compliment his theme of Good vs. Evil. Steinbeck understands that good and evil is a battle which wages in every person. Even as Cathy plots Ethel's murder, she realizes that she does not want her son Aron to know about her. However before committing suicide, she writes a note which says, "I leave everything I have to my son Aron Trask." (553). While this might appear to be a glimmer of maternal protection, it really is her attempt to curse Aron with an inheritance, which is something Steinbeck uses throughout the book as a motif to original sin. Cathy embodies evil, and she is written purposefully in order to depict true evil. From youth Cathy has followed a life of perversion, violence, and prostitution. ...read more.


(Owens, Louis) The narrator's own voice also introduces some of the observations that give authenticity to Steinbeck's exploration of the nature of good and evil. The narrator sometimes is used in function as someone who works "in direct variance with the action." (Lisca, Peter) This enables Steinbeck to convey multiple views on the conflict between good and evil. One observation is that the narrator thinks about the similarities and differences of "the church and the whorehouse, which arrived in the Far West simultaneously." (217). The narrator ironically relates the two, and he says that both accomplish "a different facet of the same thing, which is to take a man out of his bleakness for a time." (217). But Steinbeck doesn't view churches and whorehouses this simply. Steinbeck sees things in the church which reflect the battle between good and evil. The church has goodness, but it is flawed. Steinbeck is very aware about the destructive life which is led by whores, whose lives lack the relationships and continuity that the Hamilton women enjoy. An example of this is that Steinbeck uses the narrator's directions for madams, where he says that madams "have to keep suicide at an absolute minimum." ...read more.


And they have the power of choice. Steinbeck's belief in the human powers of choice can be seen in Adam's final words to Cal. He tells him this to assure him that his choices, not predetermination or his wicked mother will determine his destiny. Joseph Fontenrose agrees with this and he says that, "In the "thou mayest" doctrine, evil can be rejected and good chosen." (Fontenrose, Joseph) This is Steinbeck authenticating his own belief that human beings can overcome evil. Through the lives of his own characters, he defines the nature of good and evil. Closely related to the theme that "thou mayest rule over sin" is this thought that wants to figure out what goodness and evil is. Steinbeck creates several powerful characters in East of Eden, and most of them serve a purpose to accentuate his conflict between good and evil in the book. This struggle is a common one and is one of the oldest battles that people continue to fight everyday. He uses characters like Cathy Ames to portray absolute evil in the world, and Adam Trask to portray the naivety that often accompanies the belief in too much goodness. While Steinbeck believes that good will ultimately triumph over evil, he also believes that each person has the choice to reject evil for themselves. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Languages section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Languages essays

  1. Narcissistic Theme in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Oscar Wilde accentuates Dorian's developing narcissism by having Basil Hallward compare Dorian to several magnificent mythical men, like "Paris in dainty armor...

  2. an evil spirit

    Writing in an informal manner, Drayton aims to invite the reader into sharing his love, pain and sorrow. His using the exclamation "alas" is an obvious evidence of his informal relationship between him and the reader. In addition to this, the poem has a melancholic, dramatic tone.

  1. Expos on the characters John of Aldous Huxleys novel Brave New World and Pecola ...

    From this stems belief that being granted the blue eyes that she wishes for would change both how others see her and what she is forced to see. At the beginning of the novel, (see quote p. 19, 4th paragraph)

  2. Lord Of the Flies: Progression of Evil

    to ensue, and that Jack is now obviously confident in his ability to challenge Ralph. In the chapter immediately following this incident, Jack makes his transformation into a savage complete. Jack and his choir boys had been assigned the task of hunting for food as well as keeping the signal fire on the mountain intact.

  1. An Evil Cradling & Testament of Youth

    leave him alone, coming to show how he is slowly beginning to lose any form of escaping. 5. How truthful do you think his writing is? Give reasons for your answer. As an autobiography, the passage maintains the elements of an autobiography: setting and imagery being a larger focus than characters and plot.

  2. Commentary on Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owens

    Instead of "passing-bells", which is society's way of acknowledging a death, these soldiers receive the "only the monstrous anger of the guns", which indicates that their death goes unnoticed as if they were just cattle. Furthermore, Owen comments on all the rituals and customs that the soldiers fail to receive.

  1. Mother Daughter Relationships

    She also helps Blanca in bringing up her own daughter, Alba. Thus, Clara develops a sensitive bond with her daughter, for whom she acts as the driving force in her life. On the contrary, the mother-daughter relationship between Fernanda Del Carpio and Renata Remedios in 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' is not on the most amicable terms.

  2. The story in the prose written by M.G.Vassanji takes place in Tanzania, a country ...

    This is how the prose starts, with the tremor in her arms. From the word "tremor" to other diction he chooses, it reveals this will not be an impassive text.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work