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Thursday, November 18, 2010

East of Eden XXXVII -- chpt37: LETTUCE-HEAD

Reading Questions
Chapter 37.1
  1. Why did Lee never fully unpack before now?
  2. Notice, via Adam's obsession with ice, that Sam Hamilton yet lives, and will likely live eternally.
  3. There is great potential irony in a business plan regarding refrigeration, especially in the context of a book that has one family of immortals and another family recently resurrected.
  4. It comes out: how does Will really feel about his father?  Also, it is very easy and natural for a reader to highly idealize both Sam and Tom; look at it from the other side, and instead of villainizing Will, defend him.
  5. Is Will right?  When people ask advice, do the really only want the advisor to agree with them?
Chapter 37.2
  1. Adam's smile here after the news of the lettuce reminds me an awful lot of the smile he wore after gaining freedom from his wife.
  2. The whole episode of the lettuce makes me uncomfortable the way a situational comedy makes me uncomfortable.  In such a comedy, I know what's going to happen, and there's nothing I can do about it, and if the victim only followed sound advice to begin with, wasn't quite so stubborn, and possessed an only slightly greater portion of intelligence--which intelligence every reader of this book believes he/she possesses--it wouldn't happen!  But there's an issue of fate going on here.  Was Adam fated to lose this investment?  Whether yes or no, how does this play with the themes of the book, especially that of Timshel?
  3. As Adam is deemed a fool, how might he feel about being a "fool like Sam Hamilton?"
Chapter 37.3
  1. Dad fails and Aron moans and groans, and the trouble leads him to second guess everything about his father, including his love.  Dad fails, and what will Cal do, if his personality indeed dictates his actions?


  1. 37.1.1. The fact that he fully unpacks symbolizes that he is settling down for the first time. Before he always believed he would soon leave to start his bookshop.
    37.1.4. Will loves his father, but only because he was his father. He has no respect for him. This is because Will is very practical, and Samuel isn't. The benefit of practicality is that Will always makes the best of what is, while Samuel is so dreaming of what might be that everything around him goes to waste.
    37.1.5. Yes.
    37.2.2. I don't think this is quite what you are asking, but I kind of interpreted the losing of the money as essential for finally allowing Cal and Aron to be free. If Adam had kept that money, it would be an inheritance, sort of like how they inherit sin and personality from their father. Without anything in the way of a substantial inheritance, Cal and Aron are fully free to choose and make their lives for themselves.
    37.3.1. I don't see this as affecting Cal as much. For one, he already didn't have a lot of friends. Aron needed that sense of popularity. Cal never really did. Second, the fact that Adam is a liar/failure is catastrophic for Aron because he idolized his father. On the other hand, Cal never really did, so I don't think it's quite as devastating.

  2. 37.3.1 It's that lack of idolization combined with a yet powerful love that make Cal capable of action where Aron is crippled.

  3. Exactly. Cal seems to be Steinbeck's ideal character--someone who is capable of love and of being realistic at the same time.

  4. Special THANKS to C. Largent, for illustrating the chapter!


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