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!):
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.