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Saturday, October 2, 2010

East of Eden VII: Meanwhile Back on the Ranch

This is perfect (and very sad): I think of a connection to Reading Rainbow while reading East of Eden, I search for the clip, and find this (which clip happens to have as one of its three host, Adam Savage, host of the best show on TV: Mythbusters, of course).  So here's the introductory string:

 (skip to the book, just a few minutes in, unless you're really into the entire episode)

This is a simple, beautiful chapter.  What I love about the Hamiltons (and that's who we're talking about here) is that they always provide a respite from the ridiculous, totally over-the-top drama of the Trasks.  Returning to the Trasks is a little like the book right here.

So, into the text:

(No questions this time.)

Chapter 5

The Hamiltons:
The Boys:
  1. George: "George was a sinless boy and grew to be a sinless man. ...  It is possible that his virtue lived on a lack of energy."
  2. Will: The safety of conformity and thereby passive aggression against his father: "Just as his father could not make money, Will could not help making it."
  3. Tom: "And he was capable of giant joy, so did he harbor huge sorrow, so that when his dog died the world ended."
In an earlier discussion comment, I talked about how Samuel and Liza together are really one complete person.  That person, according to Steinbeck's description, is the stereotypical Irishman.  That person is also Tom, though more specifically than an Irishman, he is exactly the combination of his parents.  I'll quote the entire paragraph, because it's perfect:

"When Tom was nine years he worried because his pretty little sister Mollie had an impediment in her speech.  He asked her to open her mouth wide and saw that a membrane under her tongue cause the trouble.  'I can fix that,' he said.  He led her to a secret place far from the house, whetted his pocketknife on a stone, and cut the offending halter of speech.  And then he ran away and was sick."

The Girls:
  1. Una: "thoughtfully, studious, dark;"
  2. Lizzie: exemplifying an extreme of her mother's distaste for "Irish frivolity" and also happens to share her name;
  3. Dessie: fun, fun, fun;
  4. Olive: the narrator's mother (and, at this point, that's all we get);
  5. Mollie: a beauty--blond with "violet" eyes.
In summary:
"His daughter Una had become a brooding student, tense and dark.  He was proud of her wild, exploring mind.  Olive was preparing to take county examinations after a stretch in the secondary school in Salinas.  Olive was going to be a teacher, an honor like having a priest in the family in Ireland.  Joe was to be sent to college because he was no damn good an anything else.  Will was well along the way to accidental fortune.  Tom bruised himself on the world and licked his cuts.  Dessie was studying dressmaking, and Mollie, pretty Mollie, would obviously marry some well-to-do man."

 A couple points of interest, if not questions:

I think Liza knew that her husband drank and hid it.  I reference again, the string of comments from EoE IV.  Check out the Twinkie story.

As for Liza herself taking up the drink:  So she's got this "iron will."  Any such iron will against a vice, I think, represents a fear of that vice--not a fear for others, but for self--extant of the fear that once started, you'll never stop!  Liza is, if not proof, then example-- "a more relaxed and happy woman" with a few tablespoons of port in her.

'Til Monday, toodle-oo.

1 comment:

  1. I'm about to start reading the chapter, and then I'll watch the videos, too, but my best memory of "Reading Rainbow" was when I won the local chapter of their kids short story contest in first grade, and they came to my school and had a school-wide assembly for me. It's the closest I've come to true glory in my entire life. The name of the story: "A Day at the Zoo." Unfortunately, the sequel did not win the next year.

    The best part was that the Midland Daily News totally screwed me over. They published the wrong story and attributed it to me and had to publish a correction. And ever since then, I have hated that paper. And for good reason. It is crap.


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