East of eden essay

Good Versus Evil in East of Eden

The idea of good versus evil is illustrated in several ways in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. This is seen through the external conflicts in the novel, the internal conflicts of the characters, and a universal understanding of the battle between good and evil.


External conflicts between the main characters, Cathy and Adam, reflect the idea of good versus evil in their relationship. Cathy, who is much like Satan, creates a huge fight between Adam and his brother Charles with her manipulations. Later, she ruins Adam's dreams and breaks his heart when she shoots him and leaves, sending Adam into a deep depression. After twelve years, Adam snaps out of his dream world and confronts Cathy. Cathy is now called Kate and works in a whore house called Faye's. Despite her actions, Adam realizes that he doesn't even hate Cathy for the hurt she has caused him. He finds peace with himself, renewing his once abandoned relationship with his sons.

Then there is the relationship between Charles and Adam. Charles physically and mentally abuses Adam to the extent that he tries to kill him when Charles thinks that their father, Cyrus, loves Adam more. Throughout all this Adam still loves Charles, even after he finds out that Charles and Cathy had slept together and his sons may have even been fathered by Charles. Later in the novel, Adam forgives Charles and writes him a letter to try and put their differences aside, only to find out that Charles has died.

Cal and Aron are Cathy's twin sons. In their relationship they too have many conflicts, Aron, the "good" son, studies religion and Cal, the "evil" son, gambles and visits whore houses. Aron tries to convert Cal, but Cal refuses to convert a...

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...sin, while the second commands him to do so. The inconsistency results in Lee studying the original Hebrew text with his philosophical Chinese elders and a Rabbi. Together they find that the original Hebrew text uses the word timshel : thou mayest rule over sin. This verb emphasizes that a person has the power of free will, putting into his own hands the ultimate decision of whether he will do of good or evil deeds.


The idea that man's relationship with good and evil is not predestined is a central idea in this novel. The conflict between good and evil is a universal battle. Many characters in the novel, East of Eden, struggle both internally and externally with Good versus evil.


Works Cited

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath, The Moon is Down, Cannery Row, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men. New York: Heinemann/Octopus, 1979. - 896. Read Full Essay Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

One of the characters that overcome the affect of his family is Adam Trask. Adam’s father, Cyrus Trask, is a man who advocates the military all his life. Although the injury of his leg from the Civil War discards him from the military, his interest about the military does not stop. He gains knowledge about military through his studies and tells his sons about all the great things he had done in the war. Then, he convinces Adam, who is weaker and defenseless than his brother, Charles, to join the army. Adam joins the army without any resistance. While Adam is in the army, he learns what he really wants and how to make his own choice. When Adam gets out of his army for the first time and sees his father, he was told to go to the academy to enrich his soldiering program; but Adam refuses his father’s proposal and reenlists in the army where he used to be. Adam had been influenced by his father, that he followed his command. But when he knew what he really wanted he refused to be controlled by his father. Moreover, when he gets out of the army for the second time, he refuses to obey his father’s will, which was to stay in the army, and travels around the country to enjoy his life. Adam was affected by his father only to the certain point, that as soon as he got older and wiser, he began to live his life with his own decision.

East of eden essay

east of eden essay


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