From all of Steinbeck’s works, East of Eden is the most epic and the most ambitious.
The novel narrates the tale of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons who live in Salinas Valley in California. The characters of the book portray the biblical story of Cain and Abel.
Being realistic and at the same time based to a mythical, archetypical conception of the world as the arena where good fights evil, John Steinbeck manages to create some of the most memorable characters, like Cathy who incarnates the absolute malice which she surpasses through the cold inhumanity of a machine. However, we also meet Cathy’s opposite the wise Chinese survant, Lee.
The second part of the book became a movie by Elia Kazan (1955) which had the same title with the book and James Dean impersonating lead character Caleb Trask, a Cain that in the end manages to free himself from the weight of his guilt. Julie Harris played Abra Bacon, a courageous and mature woman that wavers between two Trask brothers.
Considered a true classic, East of Eden is being ceaselessly read from its first edition in 1952 till this day.
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