Final Post: East of Eden

East of Eden

John Steinbeck

Viking Adult

608 pages

I’m do-one!!  Today marks the beginning of the discussion of part IV (aka, the end) of East of Eden at Classic Reads Book Club.   See my reaction to the first three parts here:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Wow . . . that is the first word that comes to mind when reflecting on Part IV.  Here’s the thing–it seems to me that longer books like East of Eden may not pack as much punch from page to page as shorter books because the action is more spread out, which is much of the reason why I like to try and savor longer books.  This was the case with EoE for the first three parts of the book.  Part IV changed that form completely. 

For those of you who would like to skip the spoilers, I would suggest reading my reviews on the other portions of this book.

Both of the twins started annoying me in part IV.  The idea of good v bad got soover the top that I felt like Steinbeck was beating me over the head with it.  Despite that, I enjoyed watching them grow older and try to come into their own.  Cal especially fascinated me because I felt he tried harder to overcome the ties that bound him.  He felt “bad” and that was something he really had to try to overcome.  It was gratifying for Adam to absolve him at the end of the novel, and although it is left to the reader to determine what Cal made of his father’s deathbead forgiveness, I believe that he was able to turn over a new leaf. 

Do I think Cal was responsible for Adam’s death?  Or Aron’s?  No, not really.  We can’t control how people react to life, and although Cal knew that Aron could not handle the truth about their mother, I still did not hold him responsible for Aron’s reaction.  At some point, Aron needed to grow up.  Unfortunately, it never happened, but I’m not sure he ever would have.

Cathy–good old Cathy.  I was captivated throughout Part IV with the scenes between Kate, Joe and Ethel.  I couldn’t put the book down at that point.  I kept hoping Kate/Cathy would get her comeuppance and her suicide didn’t really do it for me.  I was hoping for more I suppose, but I guess the fact that she couldn’t escape her demons was enough for me in the end. 

Overall, I loved East of Eden.  Prior, I had read Of Mice and Men, another STeinbeck novel that was very enjoyable, and I can see now why Steinbeck is so revered.  His themes are classic and his books are very readable. 

Other Reviews:

Devourer of Books

Caribou’s Mom

Whimpulsive

Rebecca Reads

The Zen Leaf

I bought this book although it was so long ago, I can’t remember where I bought it from!
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4 Responses

  1. It’s part 4 that really allowed The Grapes of Wrath to edge ahead of East of Eden for me. It’s a little too heavy handed, with almost direct biblical quotes. I felt a bit like he was trying to tie it all up too much. While I loved the other three sections, I didn’t like this part as much and I felt it was overdone. In the end, The Grapes of Wrath definitely won out as my favorite Steinbeck so far, though this is a close second.

    And Cathy really is the most evil villain I’ve ever read about.

  2. Yeah, the twins were a bit annoying. Especially Aron, since I think Cal grew more as a person in Part IV.

    I’m still surprised by how readable this book was. I’m used to feeling like I’m slogging through the classics, and I ever had that reaction to EoE.

  3. I have started and stopped this one 20 times!

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed East of Eden so much because it’s one of my favorite books. I totally agree with softdrink in that I think this book is so readable, and normally I’m not a fan of the classics.

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