- Deconstruction: Is Steinbeck just making this up as he's going along? If this is really Olive's son narrating, then he already knows the story from the end to the beginning and he would have known from his first word--and dwelled on it for a decision--whether his opinion of Cathy was that she was indeed a monster or just a misunderstood alien. Suddenly, from the quotation above, the first paragraph of chapter 17, she is no longer Cathy Ames the devil, but a Frankenstein's monster without the outward monstrosity, save empty, goatish eyes. Should Steinbeck have gone back to alter that earlier chapter, held to his monster approach without deviation, or this just right?
- Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" I think it's an aptly applicable question here: "Why is a buried meteorite like a monster's baby?" Carroll's riddle never intended an answer, at least according to his own claims, but that hasn't stopped people from coming up with their own. Similarly, maybe Steinbeck didn't intend metaphor (though I doubt it). So take this is one of two possible directions--or both: 1, Just answer the second question; 2, compare the two questions in context of EoE.
- One of my favorite parts of this section is the little bit of Liza that creeps up in Samuel's behavior as he takes over the delivery of the baby. Notice how there seem to be two babies he has to deliver: the neonate, and Adam.
- Which of the many sensations of birthing are bringing the anger, and perhaps evil, into Cathy? (And don't say "all," because that's lame and a cop-out. Which are most significant? And when it comes down to it, I wouldn't ask if the answer were typical.)
- Okay, let's let the cat out of the bag: whose are the twins, and what kind of twins are they?
- Have you ever felt fear as an adult that caused you to wish you were a child with readily available and excusable foolishness and comfort?
- Samuel: "Lee, men are fools. I guess I hadn't thought about it, but Chinese men are fools too." // "What made you doubt it?" // "Oh, maybe because we think of strangers as stronger and better than we are." // ... // Samuel: "Maybe the foolishness is necessary, the dragon fighting, the boasting, the pitiful courage to be constantly knocking a chip off God's shoulder, and the childish cowardice that makes a ghost of a dead tree beside a darkening road.... I feel wings over this house. I feel a dreadfulness coming." (I believe the "wings" Samuel mentions are much like the image of a great black bird hanging over Danny in Tortilla Flat or the crow that comes over Alice after her encounter with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, that is an evil omen--a pall, a type of goose on a grave.)
- How is it exactly that Samuel thinks Liza will be able to help?
- As you get on to the end of this section, tell me--I dare you--that Liza and Samuel don't love each other; but you'd better back it up if you do.
- Maybe it's just me--my family's little predicament right now--but Samuel's attitude is enviable: ""Samuel looked up at Tim with clear eyes and said, 'I'll have to get up,' tried it and sat weakly back, chuckling--the sound he made when any force in the world defeated him. He had an idea that even when beaten he could steal a little victory by laughing at defeat."
- "Lee she used like a slave since she didn't quite believe in him. Adam she ignored since she couldn't use him for anything. She did make him wash the windows and then did it again after he had finished."
- Cathy to Adam: "I can do anything to you. Any woman can do anything to you. You're a fool."
- Why didn't she finish him off?
- Will this bring him to the point of hitting bottom, like was discussed earlier?