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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

East of Eden XXVI -- chpt25: RESURRECTION and GLORY via "TIMSHEL"

Reading Questions
Chapter 25.1

  1. No questions here, but the "cliff-hanger" in the last line, I think, is pretty lame and obviously, deliberately manipulative.

Chapter 25.2

  1. Death takes an effect stronger on the yet-living than the recently-deceased.  Duh.  But check out what it's doing to Adam.  Clearly this particular death is the only death--and perhaps the only event--that could bring Adam to confront Kate.
  2. There is evidence in the line "He could feel the blood stinging his cheeks and running hotly in his arms, as though it were some foreign warm fluid taking over his body" that this is also the moment in which he begins to come back to life, but when his "garrulousness" comes on, is it the alcohol or his resurrection that spurs interest in pursuing the confrontation, and why does he do it?

Chapter 25.3

  1. Notice how important it is to Steinbeck to make sure every inch of his antagonist is thoroughly examined and objectified.  He spends nearly a page-and-a-half performing a virtual autopsy on the living frame, like he's describing, square-by-square, a gridded photograph of the woman.  Why is this physicality so significant, at least to him, Adam, and perhaps us?
  2. "Adam sat down in the straight chair beside the desk.  He wanted to shout with relief...."  How?  Why?
  3. Why does he have to see her to forget her?  Why weren't Samuel's words enough for Adam to work this out mentally?  Better, why is it that this sort of thing must be worked out physically, in person, or it won't work out at all?
  4. And why is he so smiley?  He's practically giddy sitting there looking at his once-love!
  5. As I read Kate uncover herself and talk about her lust for control and enjoyment in manipulation, I want to know why.  But there is no why; Steinbeck makes a point of this.  The very criticism brought against her character, as drawn by the maker, is the very quality that makes her who she is: Steinbeck needed an ultimate evil.  The problem with evil explained is that we understand it, and it is no longer so foreign, for we can conceive of its beginning, we can look into its corners.  Kate's is evil without foundation or beginning.  Fear of her is like fear of the dark or fear of death--it is fear of the unknown, and an unknown that cannot be known.  She is the only character to play this role, save Satan himself.  Interesting the following contrast: just as we cannot see her beginning--her reason for who she is--because we're incapable of understanding it, so she cannot see what she doesn't understand, the good of humanity; instead, she fears and hates it as she feared and hated Samuel.  If there's a continuum and Kate is at bottommost end, who is her opposite?  I don't believe that it's Samuel.
  6. And yet she's described physically as a child.  How is it that this physicality is exactly right for who she is, and not some scaly read beast with horns and a forked tongue?
  7. When I first read this chapter, I dreaded the moment when Kate would pull the paternity card and reveal the truth to Adam about his brother's betrayal, as I knew it must come.  When I saw his reply, "It wouldn't matter--even if it was true," I cheered.  Adam is alive and well and whole!


  1. 25.2.2. I think it's a bit of both. Steinbeck seems to have a fascination with alcohol throughout this book. Both times that it comes up, it removes people's timidity and their carefully laid plans, and reveals their inner character. For Cathy/Kate, the picture is not so pretty. For Adam, we see that he really is a stronger character than we've been led to believe for most of the book. He just hides it.
    25.3.1. I think Steinbeck's point here is that he is trying to tell us that Adam now sees Cathy as she really is, not as he wants to see her. Also, it gives us an idea of how much time has elapsed since he last saw her. But I think the first point may be more important.
    25.3.4. I think the reason that he is so giddy is that seeing how horrible a person Cathy/Kate really is has disillusioned him. He can now move on in his life focusing on the future, rather than regretting her leaving him.
    25.3.5. This is an interesting question. To me, her expressed desire to control others almost did make her evil to appear a little more founded. We know that there are tyrants in society who just love power and control, not only in government, but emotional and relational tyrants. Heck, I admit that I like being in control of things, too. Most of us, though, have other qualities such as love or empathy that keep it in check, or are just not as skilled at control and manipulation as Cathy/Kate is. She is the perfect storm of ability to control and no mitigating factors that keep her from pursuing it.
    25.3.6. The childlike way of describing her is right because she is very intelligent, but she does not yet have fully developed human emotions or a complex worldview. In her case, she probably never will.

  2. 25.3.6 -- There's such an immaturity there--or lopsided maturity. I never noticed the point of it before, having her so physically childish.
    25.3.4 -- Freedom is a happy thing, and we feel it lift our shoulders.

    This isn't my favorite chapter, but it reveails a great deal. I too think Steinbeck's calculated implementation of alcohol is interesting -- makes me wonder about his experience with it. Is it more like a Cathy problem or an Adam? Or is just a keen observer?


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