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Thursday, November 4, 2010

East of Eden XXVII -- chapt26: The Beginnings of a New Beginning

The purpose of this chapter, I think, is the foundation of the rest of Adam's life--his new life.  He's sort of undergone a baptism of fire, this crazy couple of days of his, and now he's emerged new and free and young.  Will never thought Adam would buy a car, but he's buying a car; Lee never thought he might have a shot at true freedom for himself, and how he's nearly done (supposedly) with his service to the Trasks.

There's a pretty phenomenal contrast between the first and second parts of this chapter.  Consider the stark differences between Adam's conversation with Will, Samuel's son, mostly regarding the funeral and its subject, and the conversation with Lee.  Is one of these men--Will and Lee--more affected by the death than the other?  Might this argument be different had Adam gone to talk to Tom?


  1. The interesting thing to me is that, while it's about Adam's new life, a lot of the chapter focuses on Sam Hamilton's immortality, and this expresses itself in Adam's new life. When Adam says that men like Hamilton never really die, it's true, because Hamilton is living vicariously through Adam and Lee. A lot of this book reminds me somewhat of the Ecclesiastes view of the universe in the sense that, "There is nothing new under the sun." The times and characters change, but they really are just different incarnations of the same people. Following this logic, Will is another incarnation of Liza. He is completely practical, and the parts of Sam that live on in Adam don't really live for Will because he never attached himself to those parts. Tom is another manifestation of Sam. Now, there are differences around the corners with each character, but really, much of each character's life is lived expressing some ideal that his or her ancestor has lived. The book walks us to the cliff of predestination, and then, at the end, it pushes us off by showing that we can actually change our future, but it's not easy, and one has to make a willful effort to understand the options.

  2. I think your emphasis on immortality is perfectly placed, especially considering Lee's statement that one form of immortality is the individual's memories and influence perpetuating in his friends and family; this idea of transgenerational influence (but only from the top down, really) is one of the biggest themes of the book. We will be coming to it soon, but we see its beginnings now: the sins of the fathers passed onto the heads of the children. I think the reverse is equally true: the glory of the fathers (and isn't Samuel truly a father for Adam and, in a way, a brother for Lee?) express themselves in the children, as you pointed out regarding the Hamiltons, all the children reflect aspects of their parents. These kids are not new or unique. They take the bits and pieces of their parents and scatter them about each other, expressing this or that, making choices, eventually becoming unique, sort of. But they all do as they "may," if they can garner that kind of self-control or -awareness.


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