East of Eden Read-Along Installment #1 #estellaproject

East of Eden Readalong BadgeSo, somehow I signed on to read East of Eden this summer as part of The Estella Project Read-a-Long. (Peer pressure in book blogging circles is subtle, but powerful.)

Everyone knows East of Eden is a classic novel by John Steinbeck from the 1950s, but do you know how long it is? 601 pages. I’m also trying to read these two doorstoppers this summer, not to mention 1Q84 (1184 pages!):

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544 pages
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848 pages

Here goes with the discussion questions for Chapters 1-13:

1. What do you think of the style of Steinbeck’s writing? Readable and awesome, or slow and slogging?
Very readable! The narrator’s voice is quietly ironic, and the shifts from first-person into third-person, and every now and then back into first, are intriguing, making me wonder who is narrating the story. This is from Chapter 6 when Charles has been alone for a long time, with Adam gone into the Army:

“His dark face took on the serious expressionlessness of a man who is nearly always alone. He missed his brother more than he missed his mother and father. He remembered quite inaccurately the time before Adam went away as the happy time, and he wanted it to come again.”

2. We have a wicked case of sibling rivalry going on here. What are your thoughts on Adam and Charles’ relationship thus far? Their father’s influence?
Adam and Charles are half-brothers and the dysfunction between them starts early, helped along by their father, but Adam doesn’t feel any sibling rivalry, apparently – only Charles, who is poisoned by thoughts that their father favors Adam, the first-born, and hates Adam for it.

3. Just….Cathy. Expound.
She’s the serpent in the garden? Although the farm and the brothers’ relationship was hardly idyllic before Cathy arrives!

“It is my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life. Some balance wheel was misweighted, some gear out of ratio. She was not like other people, never was from birth. And just as a cripple may learn to utilize his lack so that he becomes more effective in a limited field than the uncrippled, so did Cathy, using her difference, make a painful and bewildering stir in her world.”

Visit The Estella Society for links to other Installment #1 discussion posts from the East of Eden Read-Along.



11 thoughts on “East of Eden Read-Along Installment #1 #estellaproject”

  1. I didn’t join the read-along because I have other challenges lined up. I’m finishing up the Paris in July challenge now. But, I have East of Eden on my shelf staring at me. It is really one I want to read sooner rather than later. I’ll be following your posts!

  2. You hit on some great stuff here. Especially, for me, the narration and WHO IT IS. There are more details uncovered as we read along (I’m a little ahead), but I’m curious to see how it all ties together at the end. Great read so far! Good luck with your chunksters.

  3. Yes! Who is telling this story???? The narrator almost hints at his involvement in the story early on, but so far, nothing. And Cathy! Isn’t she a fantastic creation? I don’t know whether she is the snake in the garden or Lilith, but I love her. As a character, of course–if I met her in real life I would run.

  4. I just finished this one yesterday and loved it (I think it was you who asked me if I was reading it for Estella Project…yes and no…my book club is discussing it tonight!!). I was surprised at how readable Steinbeck’s prose was. And yes! That Cathy! What a wretched beast. I can totally see her being the serpent in the garden.

  5. Huh, the narrator is one of the Hamilton g-kids. Didn’t he say Samuel is his grandfather??? That is my impression, anyway.

    And I have Luminaries on audio ready to go for next. Well, after I get back to Count of Monte Cristo…

    1. The author doesn’t make it explicit in the beginning, maybe? He says his grandfather came to the Salinas Valley with his wife, but then talks about the Hamiltons and the Trasks in the same third-person voice, so it seemed ambiguous, even going back and reading the beginning again!

  6. Wow, I’m impressed by the chunksters you’re planning to get to! I wanted to jump in on this read-along, but just couldn’t quite fit it in with the reviews I’d committed to. Hopefully some other time 🙂

  7. Gosh, all these posts on East of Eden are really making it move up on my list of classics to ACTUALLY try to read (rather than just vaguely plan to read). I’ve not really enjoyed Steinbeck in the past but maybe now is the time…

    I also wanted to let you know that sign-ups for A More Diverse Universe are open now, if you would like to participate again this year 🙂

    1. Thank you! #Diversiverse is definitely on my radar! I was planning to read Parable of the Sower. I saw that it’s not just speculative fiction this year, but I’m definitely planning to participate!

Would love to have you comment!