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Thursday, October 21, 2010

East of Eden XVII -- chapt16: The Golden Man with the Goat's Eyes

Chapter 16 opens with Samuel on the long road home after visiting the new Trask ranch.  Anyone willing, I think, will do his/her best thinking on a trip like this.  I do (though my greatest thinking certainly isn't anything to write a book about), and Samuel's thinking about is the goose (or rabbit, apparently--look it up) that walked over his grave.  Twice, and caused the "Welshrats."  (What an intriguing thing, the Welshrats--from the German weltschmerz, meaning world-pain--and how it's used here.  (If I knew German, I might be able to tell you why it's capitalized.  Anyone?))  He can't figure out what must have made it happen.  Not jealousy of the ranch.  Not some lost, painful memory.  Of course, he lands on it eventually, via a childhood memory of a criminal with eyes just like Cathy's, and the narrator recounts Samuel's experience seeing the Golden Man, whose eyes, like a goat's (my parents would probably argue this on behalf of their own goats), have no depth. 

Reading Questions
Chapter 16.1

  1. Why doesn't Samuel trust the connection between the Golden Man and Cathy?  How does this act as evidence for Cathy's superiority as Evil?

Chapter 16.2

  1. Good ol' Liza.  She hasn't even been to "the Sanchez place" and already she'll never smell anything but pigs.  Wondrous how a person of conviction, with the Lord eternally at her side (whether He likes it or not), is always right, even when she's wrong.
  2. And I'm sure Liza would condemn gossip in all around her, but never be able to see it in herself, even if her distant judgments of Cathy aren't so far off the mark.
  3. I expect that Liza enjoys being miserable and wouldn't have it any other way, even if contentedness is knocking at her door.
  4. Yet despite his strange eccentricities, somehow she and Samuel make a beautiful--and beautifully balance--couple. 


  1. HA! I know German.

    The reason that Weltschmerz is capitalized is that all German nouns are capitalized. I kind of like it. It takes away a lot of the English noun ambiguity. Your definition is correct. German is maybe the most literal language I know. English would never think to just combine two concepts and make it one word to describe something.

    I'll get to the rest of the questions when I get caught up, but this just caught my eye.

  2. The rest are less questions than my amused observations of this silly-so-serious woman. And that's great to know about the capitalization thing. I knew about the literality and the constant portmanteaus, though otherwise I know very little.

  3. It's really a great language. Among the ones that I know, Spanish is prettier, but German is sillier. I would make a case that English is useful because its grammar is so easy, and maybe that's a good thing since it has become such an international language. German is by far the hardest of the 3. Formulating each sentence is like fitting pieces of a puzzle together.

  4. Alright, I finished this one. One more to go before I can go to sleep.

    On the golden man-Cathy question: I think one of Cathy's many great assets (at least great in the sense of useful in lying) is that she is able to put herself in a position of apparent sympathy. Every one of the stories that she tells involves her somehow being a victim. When she shows up at the Trasks' house in Connecticut, she is beaten up. She wants to kill the baby because she has epilepsy. She can't talk to the sheriff because her memory is gone. She needs a job as a prostitute to pay the mortgage. Even back in the trick that she played on the boys, she made it seem as though she were being raped. Now, she is a pregnant young woman in a foreign land. What could be more vulnerable? The result is that you start to feel guilty for thinking negative thoughts about her. I think that if Cathy were in a less vulnerable position, people's sympathy toward her would not outweigh their suspicion.

  5. I think poor Samuel just needs the confirmation from his wife. He's too nice to permit himself to think evil of someone without concrete proof.


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