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John Steinbeck's East Of Eden: Modern Biblical Story Of Cain And Abel

2348 words - 9 pages

John Steinbeck's East of Eden: Modern Biblical Story of Cain and Abel

" And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, ' Where is Abel thy brother?' And he said, ' I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?' And he said, ' What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.' And Cain said unto the Lord, ' My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid. And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth" (Genesis 4:8-1, KJV). The story of Cain and Abel is probably one of the most violent and unsettling stories of the Bible. It is probably the most unsettling because it tells the truth about mankind. Rejection is the one thing that all of mankind fears, and when one is rejected anger follows. With anger comes the need to commit a crime of revenge, and with this crime comes guilt. Almost everyone has experienced this in some way.

East of Eden (1952) by John Steinbeck is a modern retelling of the biblical tragedy of Cain and Abel. The story is reenacted through the lives of two generations of the Trask family. Cyrus Trask, the patriarch of the family and his two sons Adam and Charles live on a farm in Conneticut. Charles cries out in anguish for his father's love, but his father ignores his cries and loves Adam best. Because of his father's favoritism, Charles becomes consumed with jealousy of his brother. This jealousy drives him to hatred and even an attempt at murder. Charles never kills his brother, but his jealousy and hatred remains with him throughout the book. Adam joins the army and leaves the farm, but after serving his time and wandering for many months he finally returns to the farm. It is at the farm where Adam first encounters Cathy Ames. The narrator calls Cathy a monster, a person with no morals, as a young girl burned her parents alive in their house and stole their money. Cathy ends up at the Trask farm after being beaten and left for dead by her lover. Adam nurses her back to health and finds himself falling in love with her. He marries her and they move to California. Cathy becomes pregnant and gives birth to twin boys: Caleb and Aaron. After giving birth to the twins, she shoots Adam in the shoulder and escapes to Salinas to become a madam of a whorehouse after murdering her predecessor. Caleb and Aaron (Aron) enact the second generation of Cain and Abel in the Trask family. Caleb, called Cal, is dark and conniving and Aron is handsome and liked by everyone. Just as it was with their father and...

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