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1952 Film East Of Eden As Midrash. What "Problem Points" In The Bible Does East Of Eden Address? How Are These Areas Resolved? Is It A Modern Midrash On The Cain And Abel Story?

813 words - 3 pages

In the 1952 film East of Eden, director and darshan Elia Kazan attempts to resolve the moral tension in the Cain and Abel story by depicting Cal as a sympathetic character. The ambiguity of the biblical account is responsible for much of this tension. God does not offer a reason for accepting Abel's gift and rejecting Cain's. Neither of the brothers have a distinct personality, and so the motivation for the murder is left to speculation. Why is Cain's punishment seemingly mitigated and what should the reader draw from the story? Kazan and Steinbeck together sort through such problems, using their imaginations to fill in textual gaps and formulating an interpretation relevant to their day.Why would God favor Abel and not Cain? This is the biggest problem for Kazan and Steinbeck. Unfortunately, the biblical text does not provide a clear answer, so they must come up with one on their own. Perhaps the sacrifice itself was bad. After Adam loses nearly all of his money, Cal takes it upon himself to reimburse his father. Anticipating World War I, the son invests five thousand dollars in beans and upon the war's arrival, bean prices skyrocket. Ecstatic, Cal plans to surprise his father with the money for his birthday. When that long anticipated day arrives, Aron informs Adam of his engagement to Abra and his father is thrilled. On the other hand, when Cal presents the money to his father, he replies, "Do you think I could take a profit from that?...I don't want that money." Even though his intentions were good, because the money came from the war, Adam refuses to accept it, breaking his son's heart. Thus, Kazan and Steinbeck have formulated a reason for God's behavior. Apparently, Cain's gift originated from a faulty source whereas Abel's was pure and honest. This explanation also provides a motive for murder.Why did Cain kill Abel? Again, information given in the biblical text is meager and gives no insight into Cain's motivation. Kazan and Steinbeck attribute it partially to jealousy. In response to Cal's gift, Adam replies, "I'd be happy if you'd give me something like, well, like your brother's given me." Immediately his son breaks down and runs out of the house. When Abra, whom Cal is fond of, follows to comfort him, Aron yells, "Don't you ever touch her again!" compounding his grief and jealousy. This scenario, in...

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