John Steinbeck: The Man Behind a Disillusioned American Dream

Works: East of Eden, Cannery Row



By: Melissa Socarras and Sophia Villagrasa Period: 1

Mrs. Guerrero’s AP 2008-2009 Literature Course: Saugus High School








Table of Contents


Title Page

Table of Contents

John Steinbeck Biography: Sophia Villagrasa

Synopsis of East of Eden: Sophia Villagrasa

Synopsis of Cannery Row: Sophia Villagrasa

Key Characters of East of Eden: Melissa Socarras

Key Characters of Cannery Row: Melissa Socarras

Key Conflicts of East of Eden: Melissa Socarras

Key Conflicts of Cannery Row: Melissa Socarras

Parts of Plot East of Eden: Sophia Villagrasa

Parts of Plot Cannery Row: Sophia Villagrasa

Biographical Read East of Eden: Sophia Villagrasa

Biographical Read Cannery Row: Sophia Villagrasa

Historical Read East of Eden: Sophia Villagrasa

Historical Read Cannery Row: Sophia Villagrasa

Socio-Economic Read East of Eden: Melissa Socarras

Socio-Economic Read  Cannery Row: Melissa Socarras

Formalist Reads for East of Eden and Cannery Row: Melissa Socarras

Biblical Read: Sophia Villagrasa

Morality Read: Melissa Socarras

AP –Style Passages and Questions

Works Cited













Steinbeck Biography

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California on February 27th 1902 to John Ernst Steinbeck and Olive Hamilton. Salinas is in Monterey County, the setting for most of his novels, mainly East of Eden and Cannery Row. His lower middle class upbringing inspired his tales of the working family man and his struggles. The California setting of the 1920s and 30s was perfect for his novels because of the influx of immigrants, not only from Europe and Asia, but also within America, showing the melting pot of races and ideals mixed within the working classes of society. Steinbeck wrote more than twenty books and for many was the “voice of the Great Depression.” Many of Steinbeck’s novels were influenced by his own life events with character’s names, such as Olive Hamilton, to the setting of Salinas and Monterey County, to characterization of individuals personalities based on his own relationships. Throughout World War II he wrote for the newspaper New York Herald Tribune, and continued to write until 1966 with America and Americans. Steinbeck died on December 20th 1968 of heart related problems. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 along with other critical acclaims and accolades. His most famous works range from the short story Of Mice and Men, to Grapes of Wrath, to his religious epic saga, East of Eden.










Synopsis of East of Eden

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is ultimately an epic saga of good against evil, moral versus immoral, a retelling of the story of Genesis from the Civil War until the terrors of World War I. It is a story of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, one a family struggling to obtain and uphold moral values, and one set in their ways, confident and ready to help the rest of the world become morally sound. Although the story begins with Adam Trask’s father in the Civil War, the story really follows Adam Trask and his sons struggles to maintain a life that is both successful and yet continues to have strong moral values. Adam decides, after his father’s death to leave he and his brother’s farm and travel away with his newly pregnant wife (who has a very shady past) with the huge amounts of money left by his father’s will. In a move from the East to California, more specifically the Salinas Valley, Adam and his wife Cathy, where, known but not believed by Adam, Cathy is planning on leaving him after the child is born. True to her word, Cathy leaves after her twin boys are born, leaving Adam in a state of despair, forcing his servant Lee and friend Samuel Hamilton to try to come to Adams rescue. Samuel and Liza Hamilton were a set of truly good people who had raised nine children on land close to Adams, but the land where the Hamiltons lived on was parched and useless for farming. Despite the hardships, the Hamiltons raised their family and were good people in every sense of the word. When Adam moved out to California and bought very fertile land, Samuel was the man who dug for water and began to form a friendship with not only Adam, but Adam’s servant, the Chinese-American Lee, as well. Although Lee was born in America, he took a typical Chinese job as a servant and spoke with a Chinese accent most of his life, even though he could speak English without any trace of an accent. Once Lee met Samuel on the Trask land, he began to realize that he could speak as an intelligent man to Samuel, and the two had long discussions on nearly every topic. After Cathy’s disappearance, which is later found out that she disappeared to a whore house and became the owner of it, Samuel and Lee force Adam into acceptance and into becoming a man, because Adam’s children went a year without being named. Finally, after the interference by the two men, Adam was able to name his sons, Caleb and Aron, after having long discussions about strong, Biblical names with the two men who brought him out of his rut. The story continues as Adam struggles with telling the boys about their mother, the struggle of the good and evil both morally and consciously. As their lives continue, Caleb and Aron grow both more together and apart, as Aron becomes continuously more religious and Caleb believes he is more evil and cruel, after he finds out about his mother’s past. Synonymous to the story of Abel and Cain, Caleb finally does the ultimate cruel act and shows Aron about their mother, causing Aron to disappear into the army during World War I, never to come back, while Caleb revels in his grief and guilt. However similar the story is to the cruelty of Cain and Abel, Caleb is able to overcome his guilt with the help of Lee, his father, and his girlfriend Abra, all who are supportive through the difficult time, and remind him that “he may” choose his destiny, not that “he shall”.








Synopsis of Cannery Row

Although Cannery Row is not as profound as East of Eden, Steinbeck still uses it to portray the suffering of the lower middle class people of the 1950s. As a simple story about a group of bums living on Cannery Row in Monterey during the peak of sardine canning, it is thorough. However, Steinbeck meant it more as a story with a nostalgic feeling, and completes that task, however plot-less the novel may be. Mack and the boys, although seen to society as homeless bums, really are the “philosophers of the time”, as Doc so eloquently put it. The fact that they care little about becoming rich and “bettering” their lives through getting a job, shows their appreciation of living a life to the fullest honestly, and by trying to make other people happy. In attempt to thank Doc for his own kindness, the boys try to throw him a party, that ends up disastrous, but continue to try to make it right afterwards by throwing him another surprise party that the whole city ends up coming to. The boys don’t lack friendship and are never lonesome because of their support for each other, even in the bleakest of economic times. The boys get along as well as they can, and sometimes even better by living in an unused building belonging to the local store owner in exchange for five dollars a week and protection of the building. Although the Palace Flophouse is not truly theirs, Mack and the boys try to make it theirs by painting, adding in new furniture, and eventually even getting a dog, to whom they show all of their devotion to, willing to anything for the dog that they got from a police officer. The seemingly random ramblings from one event to another, in no particular order seem to show Steinbeck pushed over the edge, but instead create a brilliant work that encases the subtle intensity of some of the lowest working class members of society of and before the 1950s.








East of Eden:

The Trask Family

~ Cyrus Trask: The father of Adam and Charles. He was involved in the military and lost his leg

during his service in the Civil War. Cyrus leaves his fortune, which was probably stolen, of more than $100,000 to his sons.

~ Mrs. Trask: Cryus' first wife and Adam's mother. Cryus never learns her name. She is a deeply

pious woman. Unfortunately, after Cryus sleeps with a black prostitute in the South during the Civil War, she contracts syphilis from him. She commits suicide a bit later.

~ Alice Trask: She's Cyrus' second wife and the mother of Charles. She rarely shows emotion.

She dies when Adam is fighting in the army.

~ Adam Trask: Cryus Trask's son and the father of Aron and Cal. He is a man with good

intentions, but he is sometimes impractical. His good intentions often leave him to be extremely innocent which causes him to fall in love with the story's evil character, Cathy Ames. The novel is a retelling of the biblical story of Cain and Abel where Adam plays the Abel role in the first generation Trask family.

~ Charles Trask: The song of Cyrus Trask and Adam's half-brother. Charles is often violent,

cynical, and manipulative. He works on his father's farm and his greedily obtains his fortune. Charles is very jealous of his brother, but he also needs Adam and misses him greatly when he is away. In this retelling of the Book of Genesis, Charles plays the Cain role in the first generation Trask family. He is one of the only characters who was able to successfully scare Cathy.

~ Aron Trask: Adam and Cathy's son and Cal's twin brother. Aron is much like his father as a

goodhearted and trusting boy. He has a deep and innate sense of morality that makes it hard for him to hear about evil in the world around him. Due to this character flaw, Aron becomes increasingly weak and retreats to the church as shelter from the harshness of the world. Like his father, Aron plays the Abel role in the second generation of the Trask family. Cal reveals to Aron that Cathy is a prostitute, which causes him to leave Stanford and join the army. He soon dies in World War I.

~ Caleb Trask: Adam and Cathy's son and Aron's twin brother. Much like his uncle Charles, Cal

is a manipulator who is incredibly jealous of his more likable brother. Throughout the second half of the novel, Cal continuously struggles to fight temptation and lead a normal life. He ultimately chooses to accept the concept of timshel, which revolves around every individual being about to choose his own moral path in life. This acceptance allows Cal to overcome his fear of Cathy's evil being genetically passed down to him. Like his uncle, Cal plays the Cain role in the second generation of Trasks, by indirectly killing Aron when he revealed the truth about their mother.


The Hamilton Family:


~ Samuel Hamilton: The head of the Hamilton family. He is a happy, self-taught Irish man who

moved his entire family to Salinas in California. Although he was never rich, he was always a well-respected man despite his monetary position. Sam befriends Adam, against his wife's adamant wishes. Sam is youthful and vivacious up until the death of his daughter Una, which deeply wounds him.

~ Liza Hamiltion: Sam's wife and the mother of their nine children. She is a stirct, moral woman

who deeply loves her husband and family. Throughout the story, she was marveled as the woman who could "do it all."

~ George Hamilton: The eldest son. Very minor character. He is bland but courtly.

~ Will Hamilton: The second son. His he practical and conservative. He deals routinely in

business and because a wealthy and powerful man in the Salina community. However, his business outcasts him from his family.

~ Tom Hamilton: The third son. His is passionate and a heavy contrast from Will. He indirectly

causes the death of his sister, Dessie, by giving her stomach-soothing salts which causes a severe illness. Afterwards, he kills himself because of the guilt.

~ Joe Hamilton: The youngest son. He attends Stanford and then moves to the east.

~ Lizzie Hamilton: The eldest daughter. She is a minor character who leaves the family and

associates herself with her husband's family instead. She is more hateful and bitter than anyone else in the Hamilton family.

~ Una Hamilton: The second daughter. She moves with her husband to Oregon and dies soon

after. Her death causes Samuel so much death that it quickly ages him.

~ Dessie Hamilton: The third daughter. She is not extremely beautiful but has a vibrant

personality. She dies when Tom accidently aggravates her illness by giving her stomach-soothing salts.

~ Olive Hamilton: The fourth daughter. She s a teacher and makes her family proud. She is the

narrator's mother. And in real life, she is John Steinbeck's mother.

~ Mollie Hamilton: The youngest daughter. She is the innocent one of the family.


Other Characters:


~ Cathy (Kate) Ames: She is the most immoral and evil character of the entire novel. Her actions

come from her love of destruction and havoc. When she was younger, she murdered her parents by arson and then went into a life of prostitution. She marries Adam and shoots him as she tries to leave and run away. She abandons Adam with newborn twin sons so that she can return to her former life. After leaving, Cathy changes her name to Kate. Kate becomes the owner of a brothel after murdering the original owner, Faye. She uses drugs as a way to control and manipulate the women who work for her. Cal discovers that Kate is his mother and he carries the information with him for a long while. Cal eventually tells Aron that Kate is his mother and it begins a tragic chain of events which eventually leads to his death. Kate represents Eve in this biblical story as she introduces sin and evil into the world. After Aron confronts her about her past and his abandonment, she kills herself.

~ Lee: Adam's cook and housekeeper who also cares for Aron and Cal. He is extremely

educated and has his origins in China. Lee is a very philosophical man and he often voices the novel's overall themes. Throughout the novel, Lee plays a prominent role and is always the mediator in the Trask house.

~ Abra Bacon:  She is the daughter of the corrupt county supervisor in Salinas. Abra is one of

the most goodhearted characters in the entire novel. She falls in love with Aron, but when he retreats to the church, she turns to Cal. Abra often worries about her father's supposed corruption and she is scared that it will taint her goodness. Abra eventually learns the idea of timshel because of Cal.

~ Mr. Edwards: He runs a prostitution ring which Cathy is a part of. Edwards falls in love with

her. However, when he discovers what she did to her parents, he nearly beats her to death. She crawls away and ends up on Adam and Charles' farm.

~ Faye: She was the owner of the whorehouse. She was killed by Cathy (presently Kate).

~ Ethel: She worked for Cathy (Kate) at the whorehouse. After attempting to blackmail Cathy

(Kate) she is found dead from a drowning.

~ Joe Valery: He is an escaped convict who finds employment at Cathy's (Kate's) brothel. As

Cathy (Kate) slips away, he gains more and more control over the brothel. Before she dies, she informs the police of Joe's whereabouts and he is gunned down by a deputy as he attempts to escape with her money.

Cannery Row:


~ Mack and the Boys: A group of always scheming grown men who live together in a run-down

Shack that's owned by Lee Chong, call the Palace Flophouse and Grill. Mack is the head of their pack as a strong and charismatic man who has a powerful affect upon everyone. Mack has the potential to do anything he sets his mind to, but  he only wishes to participate in activities that are fun and exciting. Mack often attempts to do things the easy way and it usually gets him in trouble. Eddie, another one of the boys is a temporary bartender at La Ida, a local bar. He is really popular in the town. Hazel is the hardest worker out of all the boys and he often goes with Doc on a lot of his trips. His name was interestingly obtained when his mother didn't notice what gender he was when he was born. Gay is the last of the boys and he lives with them because his wife beats him. He is always at the local bar or in jail after fights with his wife. He is a gifted mechanic.

~ Doc: The owner of the Western Biological Laboratory, a specimen supply house. Doc is a

gentle and melancholy man who helps a lot of people in Cannery Row. He introduces the boy's and Dora's girls to opera, classical music, and literature. He also cares for Frankie but taking him in. However, he is a bit of a womanizer. Even though he is surrounded by a lot of people, he always sees to be lonely and people are always trying to show him how much he is loved.

~ Dora Flood: She is the local madam, and the owner of the Bear Flag Restaurant, which is a

brothel. She is a lively and noticeable woman. She has a tight hold over her girls but also cares for them. She helps a lot of people in need. Unfortunately, she always fears that she is going to be shut down by the authorities.

~ Lee Chong: He is the Chinese grocer of the Row. His store has everything and he engages in

every possibly transaction. Sometimes, he messes up in his calculations and it leaves him short handed. He is manipulative but he also has a good heart. He tries to help people all the time, and he even helps with the parties that are thrown for Doc.

~ Frankie: He is mentally handicapped and his neglected by his mother. Doc takes him in and

cares for him. He tries to help people, but he also seems to do a lot of things wrong. However, he loves Doc immensely and appreciates everything that he has done for him. Unfortunately, he is institutionalized after breaking into a jewelry store to steal a gift for Doc.

~ Henri: He is a local artist and one of Doc's closest friends. He pretends to be French when he

really isn't. He is building a boat, and everyone marvels over it. However, he plans to leave the boat unfinished because he is afraid of the ocean. Also, it is his life's work and he doesn't want to finish it. Interestingly enough, a lot of women come and go from the boat.








Key Conflicts


East of Eden:


Good Vs. Evil:

~ Cathy: this character embodies evil in it's purest form. At a young age, she violently murdered

her parents through arson and then went into a tumultuous life of prostitution. She struggles with every character she meets and reverts to death and destruction at every instance. If anyone disagrees with her or stands in her way, she automatically plots ways to kill them. For example, when Adam begged her to stay and not abandon him and their new sons, she shoots him and leaves him there to die. When she returns to a brothel, she changes her name to Kate and immediately sets her eyes on being the madam of the whorehouse, so she kills its current owner, Faye, and takes over the brothel. When one of her whores, Ethel, threatens to blackmail her, Ethel mysteriously drowns and it is suspected to be at the hands of Cathy (Kate). In addition to resorting to murder on every occasion, she persistently passes her disdain onto her treatment of other people, including her sons. When Aron goes to visit Cathy (Kate) after discovering who she is, she completely disregards him and shows no remorse over her past transgressions. This kind of attitude and action is the consistent strain of evil that persisted throughout the novel.

~ Cathy's evilness transcends throughout the entire work and is in constant competition with the

goodness of the other characters.

~ Characters who try to emit good intentions, such as Adam Trask, Samuel Hamilton, Aron Trask,

and Abra Bacon, are often in conflict with Cathy's character as their pleas to help her or bring her into their lives are trampled over by her negativity and pure hatred. These people try to be good people and have a respectable life, but Cathy's choices often cloud their choices and relationships.

~ Some characters, such as Charles Trask and Cal Trask, are often in a persistent inner conflict

as they try to suppress the evil in them. Both characters tend to get excessively jealous of their brothers and they sometimes envision themselves doing something horribly cruel to those they love in order to bring themselves pleasure. However, these characters vary from Cathy because they do not take pride or pleasure in being this way like she does, they fight their subconscious urges time and time again.


Paternal Rejection:

~ Charles Trask: in his youth, he is in constant fear of not living up to Cyrus' expectations of him.

He is always afraid that his father will reject him or disapprove of him in some way or another. In addition, he is extremely jealous of his brother as he thinks that Cyrus approves of him more. In an effort to prevent his father's rejection, he decides to go into the farm business as a way to please his father.

~ Adam Trask: during his youth, he was also in fear of letting his father down. Although Adam

was convinced at one time that his father was leaning towards Charles far more, he never let it overcome him. In fact, he decided to pursue his own path and join the army. Ironically enough, his decision made his father respect him immensely. In contrast to Charles, Adam was never jealous or resentful towards his brother.

~ Cal Trask: much like his Uncle Charles, Cal convinced himself that Adam was far more

approving or Aron. Cal felt that his father disapproved of him whole-heartedly because he couldn't help but feel like he was carrying some sort of darkness within him. Once he discovered the truth about Cathy's profession, he realized that the darkness he feared was inside of him could in fact be a reality. After this realization, he was even further convinced that his father could see bits of Cathy in him and this was why he approved of him far less than Aron, who was goodhearted and kind and honest. As this feeling of disapproval culminated, it was clear that Cal was resentful of his brother and jealous of how his father felt about him.

~ Aron Trask: he is much like his father Adam. At first, he felt like he needed to please his father,

however he is a weak character who retreated into the church and then proceeded to attend Stanford University. Surprisingly, his father held this in high regard and he was overwhelmingly proud of Aron. He never resented Cal.


Sibling Rivalry:

~ Charles (rival against Adam): his paranoia about not being loved by his father prompts him to

resent his brother, Adam. So much so that Cal sometimes deliberately hurts Adam-- emotionally and physically. He resents Adam and is always jealous of him. It eventually consumes him. He loves his brother and misses him when he isn't around, but when he is in Adam's presence, he is overcome with jealousy.

~ Cal (rival against Aron): due to his fear that his mother's evil streak was passed down to him, he

sees him self as inferior to his brother, who is filled with goodness and purity. Because of this fear, he thinks that his father, Adam, resents him and cherishes Aron, which turns into a resentment and jealousy towards his brother. This resentment prompts Cal to want to hurt his brother in any way, even though he tries to fight the urge. However, in one night of frustration and anger, Cal reveals the truth of their mother to Aron, knowing full well that the truth of their mother's past could very well destroy Aron. This is the heightened culmination of the sibling rivalry that Cal holds against Aron.


Struggle to live a moral life:

~ Cal: constantly struggling internally to lead a moral life. Something inside of him has the desire

to do immoral and cruel things to other people. He is constantly battling himself to overcome this. Eventually, he reserves to the idea of timshel which Lee taught him. In a round about way, this philosophical idea proclaims that every individual has the freedom to choose their own moral path. Once he accepts this idea as truth, he lets go of the assumption that his mother's evilness was passed down to him and resolves to believe that he can be good and moral if he chooses to be.





Cannery Row:


Human Action vs. Human Intent Disrupted by Good Vs. Evil:

~ The characters appear to be drifters and wanders, but there is a lot more to them, even if they

are far from perfect.

~ They teeter back and forth between doing "good" and doing "bad" which relates back to they

greater population of the greedy world.

~ Mack and the boys represent almost every person, who breaks things when they wish to build

upon them, hurt people and themselves when they wish for love, and they are often distracted by the moment versus striving for the greater picture in life.

~ The characters and the rest of the people of Cannery Row, are swaying between the balance of

good and evil which inadvertently swats their judgment and interferes with their ability to distinguish between where their actions take them and the intent they originally had for those actions.

~ The people of Cannery Row are portrayed as worthless and absurd, but they emit a sense of

nobility and purity even though they seemingly lack "importance" and "worth."


Order Vs. Chaos:

~ Throughout the novel, there is a conflict between maintaining the balance of human order in

proportion to the chaotic and highly erratic universe. For this reason, the book itself appears to be chaotic, yet this chaos is what creates the order within the book as inter-chapters and long discussions about seemingly pointless scenes filter throughout the book.

~ Doc gives order to chaotic situations-- whether it be at the hands of Mack and the boys or the

actual wildlife that he is working with on a day to day basis. However, he eventually realizes that in a way, he is contributing to the chaotic environment around him which alludes to an allegory of the labors of today. Suicide, loneliness, joy, love, and isolation is thrown together in an unusual manner which ironically arranges itself into an understandable and relatable manner-- the recognition of true human nature.

~ In Cannery Row, the chaos vs. order element is apparent as every character tries to change

things that inevitably remain the same. This idea is persistently revisited in Steinbeck's alluring inter-chapters.








Parts of Plot: East of Eden


-Cyrus Trask, from, Connecticut, entered the army for several weeks, became disabled, fathers two children, Adam and Charles Trask

-Adam Trask entered the army, upon his leave he traveled around the country as a bum, then reentered the army

-A woman named Cathy kills her parents, leaves town, and becomes a whore, where she met a man who beat her nearly to death

-After Cyrus Trask died and left both Adam and Charles a considerable amount of money, Adam marries Cathy and both leave to California

-After Cathy finds out that she is pregnant and tries to abort the baby herself, she is resigned to live with Adam until the baby is born.

-Twin boys, both unnamed are born, and after Cathy’s body is back to normal, she shoots Adam in the shoulder and leaves him

-After Cathy has left, she seduces many in the field of whoring, including the Madame of the whorehouse who writes Cathy into her will then mysteriously dies

-After Cathy leaves, Adam is useless until his friends Samuel and Lee literally beat sense into him and force him to name his children, Cal and Aron

-Samuel doesn’t see the boys again until they are young men, which at that point he, Lee, and Adam have several long conversations about the boys and Bible, and Cathy whom Adam continues to lie to the boys about

-As the boys grow older, Aron meets Abra whom he falls in love with and continues to see throughout high school

-Samuel finally resigns from his farm and inventions, knowing that he is too old and soon passes, leaving his family, Adam, and Lee in despair

-Adam makes a plan to sell lettuce across country using refrigeration in train cars that fails, greatly decreasing their funds and making them the laughing stocks of the city

-Aron leaves high school early to go to Stanford, while Cal makes new business plans so that he can try to make money for his father to make up for the money lost in the lettuce investment

-Cal finds out who is mother really is, and keeps the knowledge from both his brother and father

-When Aron comes back from college for break, he is thinking of announcing that he is not going to go back, but doesn’t want to disappoint his father, while Cal presents the money earned to his father, who rejects it

-Cal becomes so angry and jealous at the fact that he burns the money, and takes Aron to show him who is mother really is

-Cathy commits suicide by poison and leaves all of her money to Aron

-Aron flees and enlists in the army (during World War I), where he is killed

-Abra and Cal fall in love, and Abra helps Cal become stronger so that he doesn’t so much blame himself

-Adam takes the news of Aron’s death so badly that it puts his health over the top and has a stroke, meanwhile Cal blames his brother’s death on himself


















Parts of Plot: Cannery Row

-Mack, Hazel, Hughie, Eddie, and Jones make a deal with store owner Lee Chong about living in a place he owned down the street for five dollars a week (the Palace Flophouse)

-Hazel, Hughie, and Jones sometimes work with Doc at Western Biological, and because of the goodness of the  type of person he is, the boys begin to think about doing something nice for him

-While Hazel helps Doc get marine animals for his work (Western Biological collects any type of animals, live or dead, to sell), the boys at the Palace Flophouse work together to try to make it a home, with furniture and an oven

-Because Doc is so kind to them, Mack and the boys decide that they should do something nice for Doc, so they decide to throw him a party

-The boys try to go get several hundred frogs for Doc (he pays them 5 cents apiece) so that they can pay for the party, and borrow Lee Chong’s pickup truck to go get the frogs

-The boys’ friend, Gay, was supposed to fix the truck, but when looking for parts got killed, leaving the boys to have to fix the truck themselves

-The boys got all of the frogs that they needed, (after a run in with a police officer who at first distrusted them, but later gave them a puppy and drink) and used them to pay Lee Chong for decorations, meat, and alcohol

-The boys decided to throw the party as a surprise after Doc came back from a trip to Southern California, but the party ended up getting out of control before Doc got back, and many of Doc’s expensive possessions in the lab were broken

-Because of this accident, the boys were guilt-ridden and hated to ask anything from Doc, even though, after Doc broke Mack’s nose, he came to forgive them and believed them the smartest men in the world

-In order to make up for the failed party, the boys want to throw Doc a surprise party for his birthday, and end up inviting most everyone in town

-Doc finds out about the party, and because he told the boys the wrong date, he felt badly

-In order to make sure it was a good party, Doc went and bought steaks and alcohol beforehand, while the whole city made strides in trying to get him presents worthy of such a good man

-The party was successful, and although Doc got stuck with the mess of cleaning up after the party, he appreciated the action









Biographical Read: East of Eden

Although East of Eden appears to be a text that engulfs only biblical allusions, much of the work also portrays Steinbeck’s own life. To begin with, the very setting of East of Eden is in the Salinas Valley, the place where Steinbeck was born very close to, and where many emigrated to during the Dustbowl and Great Depression of the 1930s and where many foreigners chose to make their home in California so that they would be able to produce on the vast amounts of farmland. Though the protagonist in the story is Adam Trask, Steinbeck chooses to use the Hamilton family as a symbol of his own, creating Olive Hamilton, a symbolic figure of his own mother, who is the mother of the narrator, and Liza Hamilton is symbolic of his sister, Elisabeth who pampered him like she was his mother, who is indeed the grandmother of the narrator. The usage of the University of Stanford was also not coincidental, considering Steinbeck himself graduated from the prestigious school. Because Steinbeck wrote the novel after his marriage to his third wife, with whom he was happiest, he realized that his relationship with his Gwyn Conger was a very unhappy one, and therefore he based his character Cathy, the cruel woman with inhuman emotions, on his second wife. Although Cathy was loosely based upon Gwyn, Steinbeck was able to use his feelings of emotional loss with Gwyn to display the emotional despair Adam felt when Cathy left him. Even the parallelism within the novel with the two sets of brothers, Charles and Adam, and then later on Cal and Aron, is similar to real life events within the Steinbeck family because John Steinbeck wrote the novel for his two sons, Thom and John, who were two years apart. Steinbeck wished to show the bonds of brotherhood, throughout the good times and the bad, the difficult moral challenges and the family crises.













Biographical Read: Cannery Row

As with all of his novels, John Steinbeck not only created a new world in Cannery Row, but included pieces of himself in the text. As with his own family, Steinbeck created the characters of Cannery Row as members of the working class, both the middle and lower sectors of the status. Although Steinbeck’s own family was never poor or went without, his background as a member of working class society allowed him to experience the pains and toils that his characters went through. As well as with East of Eden, Cannery Row is set in Monterey Country, this time on a strip next to the ocean where sardine canneries were prominent until the mid 1950s. Because Steinbeck grew up in Pacific Grove, barely two miles away, he saw the influx of people searching for work in the thriving canneries, hoping that they too could make enough money to support their families. However, the money of the canneries was given to the owners, not the workers, many of them coming away with very little wages and only a sporadic, part time job. The idea of Steinbeck as an author in Monterey was also played upon in the novel, because authors were seen as a prestigious occupation in Monterey, as shown by the author who died in the novel who, instead of being discarded like others who have passed, was found and given a proper, ceremonial burial. Although authors were supposedly given prestige in the city, Steinbeck’s own life was not given that reputation because the citizens of the city saw most of Steinbeck’s works as insulting to the county, rather than praising. Finally, the biggest inspiration and truth in the novel is the character of Doc, who in reality was Steinbeck’s best friend, Ed Ricketts, whom was tragically killed in a train accident. Ricketts was a marine biologist who owned a laboratory on Cannery Row. As Steinbeck’s best friend, Ricketts inspired many of his works and Ricketts’s work was a getaway for Steinbeck to think. Doc paralleled Ricketts not only in occupation, but also as a moral philosopher and over all excellent human being. The death of Ed “Doc” Ricketts was devastating not only to Steinbeck’s emotions but to his writing as well, showing his bond with the man that so many knew as Doc.











East of Eden Historical Read


In John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, there is historical significance from the very beginning. Steinbeck commences with a description of the Hamiltons, showing their trip from Ireland, reminiscent of the “new” immigration of the 1800s, where many Irish, Chinese, and Eastern Europeans traveled to America to make better lives for themselves and their families. After explaining the immigration, Steinbeck goes on to consider California as a melting pot where many foreigners immigrated and Americans emigrated to because of its vast amount of fertile farmlands. The Salinas Valley, the upper portion of California’s central valley, was home to thousands who wished to own their own land and create a legacy of their own right. Steinbeck then shifts to parallel comparisons of two major wars throughout American history: the American Civil War and World War I. In the Civil War, Cyrus Trask fights, but, several weeks in, receives an injury to his leg that does not allow him to continue fighting, and continues to go on to create a façade that even he begins to believe, making him an important man in history. The reference to war happens again at the end of the novel while World War I is going on. Although the cities within Salinas Valley are small ones, they too are affected by the impending war, eventually sending Aron Trask, Cyrus’ grandson, into the trenches to die. Although Steinbeck created the work after more than thirty years from either event, he was able to construct a world in which small-town families were affected, even by global conflicts, and to show the extent to which these same families were influenced and sculpted by historical events.











Cannery Row Historical Read


Steinbeck’s’ Cannery Row delved not only into a world of fiction, but also into the historical scene of the city. Though the story appears to be plot-less, the history of the Row is enriching. As Steinbeck puts it, the city is full of sights and sounds, seen as either pleasing or detestable depending on the viewer. Historically, the strip of the cannery was home to many lower working class citizens trying to keep a job, but the Row’s money went more to cannery owners than the workers. Work was sporadic and best, and only available when the sardine catch was good. Steinbeck set his story in the 1950’s, at the peak of the canning industry and based his characters on those working class members that struggled to find a job and afford housing and amenities in Monterey. Even places in the novel were historically accurate. Doc’s Western Biological Laboratory was reminiscent of Steinbeck’s friend, Ed Ricketts’s, laboratory for marine biology, while Dora’s Bear Flag Restaurant was an ironic twist on the social norms of whorehouses and brothels of the time. Socially accurate of the time, Dora ran the brothel as “legally” as she could, even though the idea of them was illegal, and was forced to be flexible with her schedule due to groups against the idea of brothels. Although illegal, the brothels continued, as a way for the workers of the canneries to escape from the struggles of living in a lower working class society, and the reality of a harsh survival.










Socioeconomic Blurbs:

East of Eden

In East of Eden, socioeconomic factors surround the lives of most of the characters and also heavily affect the choices that they make. In his youth, Charles was in constant pursuit of his father’s, Cyrus’s, fortune that he had accumulated. Charles believed that this money could social aid him later in life and also believed that it had the potential to bring him happiness, joy, and pleasure. When Samuel Hamilton’s character was first brought into the story, it was revealed that he was a man who was never extremely wealthy, but mostly everyone in the society around him respected him greatly and looked to him as an honest and inspirational man. Sam never saw a need for a lot of money and because of this, he lead a life more focused on family and pure accomplishments which led him to being happier and a more ‘well-rounded’ individual. As the novel continued and Cathy was first introduced to the scene, it was almost immediately revealed that she was a well-known whore who used her body as a way to get money, and in some ways, respect. Throughout the novel, Cathy was developed in depth and it was revealed that prostitution was a way for her to acquire a lot of money in a short amount of time because she believed that it was essential to her happiness and her sense of accomplishment. The money that she was obtaining and the power that she held over these men, whom she blackmailed into never revealing their involvement or into never harming her, gave her a sense of satisfaction and she felt like she had a purpose in the social sphere. By a grand contrast, Adam came to his overwhelming amount of money when he received half of his father’s fortune. Originally, Adam used his money to make a comfortable life for himself and the people in it. However, as he went through various hardships with Cathy and his two sons, he felt the need to actually work and do something useful with his time and his money, thus he invested in a new business venture. By putting the majority of his money into an experimental lettuce shipping business, Adam opened himself up for new socioeconomic hardships as his fortune quickly drained and those in society viewed him as a partial failure when his innovation did not work as he had hoped or planned. These instances in East of Eden are some of the few examples in which socioeconomic situations are exhibited as characters from all different social classes and economic classes navigate through their lives.






Cannery Row

In Cannery Row, Steinbeck integrates socioeconomic aspects into the lives of the characters and the mishaps that occur in those lives. On a grand scale, the novel was set around the time period of the cannery industries peak as sardine canning was extremely profitable nationwide. On a more personal level with the characters themselves, Mack and the boys are put into a life of poverty where they are forced to adjust their living situations on a day to day basis to compensate for their financial difficulties. Mack and the boys do not have enough money to give themselves a decent life so they are forced to ask other people around them for assistance and eventually end up living in Lee Chong’s old, run down fish packing warehouse, otherwise known as the Palace Flophouse and Grill. Although they do not have a lot of money, the other people in Cannery Row are willing to help them because on some level, they appreciate Mack and the boys and they wish to help them since a lot of people hold the boys close to their hearts. In an attempt to aid the boys, Doc offers to give them little side jobs here and there, such as the collection of the frogs, just so they can have a little bit of money to their names. Doc is economically well-off but he makes sure to not let his good position affect the possibility of him aiding other people who may be in need. Just as Doc helps the boys, the local Chinese grocer, Lee Chong, helps the boys and other people in town as much as he can. He allows the boys to stay in his old warehouse free of charge because he understands that the boys need any help that they could possibly get. Lee could charge the boys in full right, but because of his apathy towards their situation and the boys’ good social reputation, Lee agrees to help them without expecting anything in return. In addition to helping the boys, Lee also helps the local people in town by cutting particular deals on the groceries that he sells and the products that he carries. As a man who lived in America during a time when Chinese immigrants were coming to the country in large influxes in order to achieve a greater monetary position, Lee demonstrates the counterbalance of living a comfortable life while also trying to help those around you on an everyday monetary and societal level. These instances showcase some of the most pivotal socioeconomic concepts which filter throughout Cannery Row by way of the multiple characters and their actions.






List of Literary Devices:


1. Extended Metaphor: compares two different things by speaking of one in terms of the other.

East of Eden- Extended metaphors are used throughout Steinbeck’s work. One example

of the many metaphors he used is: “A new country seems to follow a pattern. First come the openers, strong and brace and rather childlike. They can take care of themselves in the wilderness, but they are naïve and helpless against mean, and perhaps that is why they went out in the first place. When the rough edges are worn off the new land, businessmen and lawyers come in to help with the development—to solve problems of ownerships, usually be removing the temptations to themselves. And finally comes culture, which is entertainment, relaxation, transport out of the pain of living. And culture can be on any level, as is.” This metaphor is subtly comparing the development of a new country or city to the workplace world.

Cannery Row- As the text is examined, it is clear that there are multiple extended

metaphors throughout the chapters. One example is: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,; and he would have meant the same thing.” This excerpt is comparing Cannery Row to all different things—tangible or otherwise.


2. Paradox: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality

expresses a possible truth.

East of Eden- Paradoxes filter throughout this epic and contribute to the greater meaning

of the text. One example of a paradox is: “Most children abhor difference. They want to look, talk, dress, and act exactly like all the others. If the style of dress is an absurdity, it is pain and sorrow to a child to not wear that absurdity. If necklaces of pork chops were accepted, it would be a sad child who could not wear pork chips. And this slavishness to a group normally extends into every game, every practice, social or otherwise. It is a protective coloration children utilize for their safety.”

Cannery Row- Even though this short story is filled with seemingly frivolous concepts, it

also includes brief philosophical paradoxes from time to time. An example of a paradox in Cannery Row is: “’It has always seemed strange to me,’ said Doc. ‘The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honestly, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.’”


3. Simile: a comparison between two different things that resemble each other in at least one


East of Eden- Similes are intertwined in the text and language of this epic story. For

example: “his fingers got together in conference, talking to one another like ants.” In addition to being a simile, this is a prime example of personification.

Cannery Row- Although this novel lacks a plot, Steinbeck still employs classic literary

devices. One example of a simile he uses is: “For Frankie drifted about like a small cloud.” Similes like this filtered throughout the entire text.


4. Imagery: the formation of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things, or of such images


East of Eden- In this novel, Steinbeck consistently uses imagery as a primary device for

describing the setting and distinguishing the tone for the actions taking place. One example of this is: “She shot him. The heavy slug struck him in the shoulder and flattened and tore out a piece of his shoulder blade. The flash and roar smothered him, and he staggered back and fell to the floor. She moved slowly toward him, cautiously, as she might toward a wounded animal. He stared up into her eyes, which inspected him impersonally. She tossed the pistol on the floor beside him and walked out of the house./He heard her steps on the porch, on the crisp dry oak leaves on the path, and then he could hear her no more. And the monotonous sound that had been there all along was the cry of the twins, wanting their dinner. He has forgotten to feed them.” Imagery like this allows the reader to envision the characters and the actions in their head and it allows the novel and it’s plot to come to life.

Cannery Row- A lot of this short story involves the description of the scenes and the

places in them. In these descriptions, Steinbeck uses a lot of imagery so that the reader can picture the parts of the book. One example is: “On an evening when he stood in his place on a pad of newspaper to keep his feet warm, he contemplated with humor and sadness a business deal that had been consummated that afternoon and reconsummated later that same afternoon. When you leave the grocery, if you walk catty-cornered across the grass-grown lot, threading your way among the great rusty pipes thrown out of the canneries, you will see a path worn in the weeds.”



5. Allusion: a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or

by implication.

East of Eden- Throughout the novel, there are allusions to the Bible, pop culture, or the

author himself. One allusion to the author himself is demonstrated in: “He walked to Stone Street where the Catholic church is and turned left, went past the Carriaga house, the Wilson house, the Zabala house, and turned left on Central Avenue at the Steinbeck house. Two blocks out Central he turned left past the West End School.” This excerpt provides a clear reference to the author’s, Steinbeck’s, home in Salinas. References such as this occurred throughout the text.

Cannery Row- In one part of this short story, a reference seems to be made to Satan.

This allusion is: “It was during one of his ritualistic mournings for the lost Alice that the strange thing began to happen. It was night and his lamp was burning and he had just barely begun to get drunk when suddenly he knew he was no longer alone. He let his eye wander cautiously up and across the cabin and there on the other side sat a devilish young man, a dark handsome young man. His eyes gleamed with cleverness and spirit and energy and his teeth flashed. There was something very dear and yet very terrible in his face. And beside him sat a golden-haired little boy, hardly more than a baby. The man looked down at the baby and the baby looked back and laughed delightedly as though something wonderful were about to happen. Then the man looked over at Henri and smiled and he glanced back at the baby. From his upper left vest pocket he took an old-fashioned straight-edged razor. He opened it and indicated the child with a gesture of his head. He put a hand among the curls and the baby laughed gleefully and then the man tilted the chin and cut the baby’s throat and the baby went right on laughing. But Henri was howling with terror. It took him a long time to realize that neither the man nor the baby was still there.”


6. Anaphora: the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases,

clauses, or sentences, commonly in conjunction with climax and with parallelism.

East of Eden- As a classic rhetorical device, Steinbeck often uses anaphora to pull the

reader’s attention in to the text. One example of this is: “’You know about the ugliness in people. You showed me the pictures. You use all the sad, weak parts of a man, and God knows he has them.’”

Cannery Row- One example of anaphora is: “Mack went on. ‘I thought to myself—“Maybe

this will teach me. Maybe I’ll remember this.” But, hell, I won’t remember nothin’. I won’t learn nothin’.’”


7. Inter-chapters: an intervening or inserted chapter.

East of Eden- Throughout the novel, Steinbeck intertwines short chapters that discuss

characters that are not involved with the immediate plot or other topics unrelated to the plot of the book. These short chapters filter in between the chapters that are actually involved in the plot itself and it breaks up the action of the novel. Some of these chapters in this novel discussed the war that was occurring, the development of new countries, or characters completely unrelated to the novel’s plot. However, in some way, these short inter-chapters connect to the bigger picture of the novel’s overlapping themes.

Cannery Row- Although this book was one of Steinbeck’s short stories, it included many

inter-chapters which is a signature stylistic element of his work. These inter-chapters were extremely short compared to the chapters which actually pertained to the text. For most of these inter-chapters, Steinbeck focused on characters who were not a part of story; most of these characters were introduced just for the chapter and never reappeared in the book. Again, in some way, these inter-chapters connected back to the overall themes of the book.


8. Aphorism: a concise statement containing a subjective truth or observation cleverly and pithily


East of Eden- In this novel, Steinbeck tangents into interestingly philosophical

discussions that break up the drama and action of the story. Sometimes, these discussions are held between characters or simply as narration. Usually, these discussions contain many aphorisms. One example is: “We’re a violent people, Cal. Does it seem strange to you that I include myself? Maybe it’s true that we are all descended from the restless, the nervous, the criminals, the arguers and brawlers, but also the brave and independent and generous. If our ancestors had not been that, they would have stayed in their home plots in the other world and starved over the squeezed-out soil.”

Cannery Row- In certain parts of this novel, Steinbeck would include short and concise

statements which posses a truth that most readers would not of considered. One of these aphorisms is:  “Doc traveled on the highways a good deal. He was an old hand. You have to pick you hitchhikers very carefully. It’s best to get an experienced one, for he relapses into silence. But the new ones try to pay for their ride by being interesting. Doc had had a leg talked off by some of these. Then after you have made up your mind about the one you want to take, you protect yourself by saying you aren’t going far. If your man turns out too much for you, you can drop him. On the other hand, you may be just lucky and get a man very much worth knowing.”


9. Questions: used for effect, emphasis, or provocation, or for drawing a conclusion

from the facts at hand.

East of Eden- Throughout the novel, Steinbeck integrates rhetorical questions into his

philosophical tangents and into the dialogue between the characters. One example of rhetorical questions in dialogue is: “We are mundane and materialistic—and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals?... Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture?”

Cannery Row- In this short story, Steinbeck uses a lot of questions to enhance

characterization. Some examples of this are: “’Nuts?’ he asked. ‘Oh, yes, I guess so. Nuts about the same amount we are, only in a different way.’” and “’He likes boats,’ said Doc. ‘But suppose he finishes his boat. Once it’s finished people will say, ‘Why don’t you put it in the water?’ Then if he puts it in the water, he’ll have to go out in it, and he hates the water. So you see, he never finishes the boat—so he doesn’t ever have to launch it.’” And “’Well, what they got their asses up in the air for?’”


10. Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of

something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

East of Eden- Throughout this epic, the characters often come to certain realizations

about the world they live in and come to terms with the truths of life. One example of an epiphany is: “When a child first catches adults out—when it first walks into his grace little head that adults do not have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just—his world falls into panic desolation. The gods have fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.” This epiphany represents the realization that parents are not God and that they are not all-knowing which is a realization that most children encounter during their youth.

Cannery Row- Part of this short story is often related to discovery and new found

observations. One example of an epiphany is shown when Doc is discussing Mack and the boys and how they interact in the world. This example is: “Doc said, ‘Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think,’ he went on, ‘that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else.’”


11. Compound/Complex Sentences (Syntax): the study of the rules for the formation of

grammatical sentences in a language.

East of Eden- Steinbeck has a very distinguished writing style because he typically uses

a lot of compound-complex sentences and then proceeds to break them up   with short and seemingly simple sentences. One example of this occurring is: “I remember the Gabilan Mountains to the east of the valley were light gay mountains of sun and loveliness and a kind of invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother. They were beckoning mountains with a brown grass love. The Santa Lucias stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding—unfriendly and dangerous.” In this excerpt, two long sentences are broken up by one shorter sentence. This pattern continues throughout most of the novel.

Cannery Row- In this short story, a lot of time is spent on descriptions of scenery and

events and characters. During these descriptions, Steinbeck uses a lot of compound-complex sentences. One example of this is: “Mack and Hazel, a young man of great strength, Eddie who filled in as a bartender at La Ida, Hughie and Jones who occasionally collected frogs and cats for Western Biological, were currently living in those large rusty pipes in the lot next to Lee Chong’s.”

















Biblical Read for East of Eden and Cannery Row: Sophia Villagrasa

The Bible. Although a text that is more than two thousand years old, the Bible is still greatly alluded to in any number of works; however John Steinbeck takes the allusions even further, to shroud his works in such a way that even the least-religious person could understand the deeper meaning. While Steinbeck’s Cannery Row doesn’t include nearly as many references to the Bible and other religious events compared to his other works, Steinbeck’s East of Eden uses the Bible not only as a tool, but as a set of guidelines for the characters and events that occur.  Steinbeck uses the key conflicts, people, and ideas of the Bible to shape his characters in East of Eden, while uses the concepts and main antagonist of the Bible to develop Cannery Row.                 The epitome of the never ending struggle against good and evil in the Bible is symbolized devoutly in both East of Eden and Cannery Row. In Cannery Row, Steinbeck uses a twist on the moral exertions and instead uses the ideas of right and wrong to cover those ideals of the Bible.  Especially as members of the lower working class, Doc and Mack and the boys have to fight against succumbing to many of the pressures society has put upon them at the time. During hard economic times, the battle between living or killing one’s self was an endless battle, and as one of the girls at the local brothel told William, the suicidal watchman, that suicide is a “dirty, lousy, stinking sin” showing that even the lowest of societal classes were fearful of God’s wrath. Another temptation considered during the time period was the sinful distraction of the brothels. Although most of the men didn’t deem the action of going to a brothel as immoral, many women disliked the idea, and Dora, the owner, was forced to lead a “ticklish existence” in order to not get arrested or shut down by the women of Monterey. Even though Cannery Row’s moral expectations weren’t completely influenced by Biblical events, they still contain the core ideas of right and immoral, and the characters experiencing the events understood the complications with what could happen to them in their afterlife, because most of them were religious and fearful of God’s wrath.

            Unlike in Cannery Row, Steinbeck uses religious references in East of Eden not only to enhance his story, but to develop the plot line all of his characters follow. The struggle is definitely one against good and evil: the two sets of Trask sibling rivalry, the character of Cathy as both the “Terrible Mother and Duplicitous Eve” (Bloom 151), and the goodness of both the Hamilton family and Abra. Commencing the novel is a rivalry between two brothers, Adam and Charles, which suggests hints of a Cain and Abel relationship, but fades as Adam decides to leave Connecticut and begin a new life. The new life is started by Adam, whose very name implies the father of mankind, and Cathy, the embodiment of the sinful woman. The story of this family was intended by Steinbeck to be “patterned after the biblical story of Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel” (Florence 86). The idea of the wicked nature of woman in stealing the forbidden fruit is personified by Cathy, who kills her parents, stealing life, as well as by being corrupt and exploiting those she meets, distorting reality and having no reservations about ruining other’s lives, damning them to a life of eternal torment. Adam distinguishes himself from Cathy by being resurrected, like Jesus Christ, however instead of being revived from death  is “reborn to a new perspective” (Bloom 113): initially when he moves to create a new life for himself, secondly when he wakes up from the haze after Cathy leaves him, and once more when he finally learns to leave Cathy behind. Adam continuously questions himself, always trying to do the right thing, depending on his friends when he can no longer do it himself. When his twins, Cal and Aron, are first born, Adam is a terrible father, neglecting even to name them. Eventually, Adam is forced to come into his own, and shifts into a father that cares very much about his sons’ educations, hoping them to get along further than he did. The sons, Cal and Aron, are too named by the Bible, and struggle with the battles within themselves. Aron, is seen as the pure, the innocent, the young man who charms all without endeavor, loved “better” by his father, while Cal, is the young man who scrambles not only to find his place in the world and in his father’s heart, but also find a way in which to soothe his inner battles without devastating his family. Their relationship is influenced by that of Cain and Abel, “the archetype for sibling rivalry and fratricide” (Bloom 151), and because of jealousy, Cal inadvertently kills Aron. However, instead of being condemned as Cain was in the Bible, Cal goes through a phase of redemption, allowing himself to continue in life. The conflicts of untainted purity and those vile and wicked in nature thrive in East of Eden, and Steinbeck encourages the battles, following the Bible to form their conclusions.

            In Cannery Row, Steinbeck not only uses the ideas in the Bible to reinforce the main goal of his proposal of morality, but also to focus on the mysteries of everyday happenings in the lower class society. The main example of this is the passage in which Henri the painter saw a man killing a baby, in which he could only rationalize as a ghost. However, Steinbeck chooses to describe the young man not only as any young man, but one who was a “devilish young man” and darkly handsome. This young man, who didn’t look “hardly more than a baby” himself petrified Henri as he slashed open a baby’s throat with a razor. This horrifying image, though explained as a ghost by Henri, is in reality an image of Satan disguised as a human, perhaps trying to tempt Henri into dark deeds, or perhaps trying to flex his enormity and villainy. Steinbeck continues with the explanation of everyday life with his introduction to the novel, describing Cannery Row as a place inhabited by “saints and angels and martyrs and holy men” or “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches” depending on the observer. Although they seem to be completely contradictory terms to describe the populace, Steinbeck may have understood both points of views, the reasons why such dissolute and righteous people could be compared. The citizens of Cannery Row, though they sometimes took the wrong path and committed sins, were truly good, moral people within.

In East of Eden, Steinbeck ensured that the Bible was incorporated to create a set of guidelines for the account to follow. Beginning with the very names of his characters, Steinbeck surrounds his readers with a world paralleling the holy book. Adam, not only the protagonist, is also the “father of mankind”, fathering Cal and Aron, synonymous with Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s sons. Steinbeck not only created this world analogous to the Bible once, but twice, showing two different versions of Genesis, one with fatal flaws and the other embarking with a seemingly utopian, untainted start. The relationship between Cathy and Adam, the first Adam and Eve of the story, is blemished: Cathy proving her own needs to be more important, gaining in any way she can, exposes herself as “selfish and greedy” (Florence 87), while Adam is unassertive, not taking charge of any situation, letting life pass him by with his only real attempt at humanity is his feeble grasps to uphold his relationship with Cathy. Cathy, who only stayed with Adam for protection, was livid to find that she was pregnant, and was forced to stay pregnant, because, while the Doctor was in shock about her attempted abortion, he insisted she “must not destroy life” else he would expose her, an ultimate damper on her endeavor to exploit Adam. Though Cathy did not initially destroy the life within her, she committed an ultimate sin several times: destroying Adam’s life with her leaving him, killing one of her sons when she is exposed as not only an owner of a brothel, but also a prostitute and overall evil woman, and her own suicide, obliterating lives that she was sworn not to harm. Adam too is flawed, and although he is neither “an antihero, nor the usual victim of circumstances” (Bloom 122), he lacks initiative because of his romantic delusions with Cathy, and is unable to bring up his sons in a proper manner. Because of this deficiency of a strong father figure, the boys grow up in a similar, but more extreme relationship to that of Adam and Charles, taking fraternal rivalry to the extremities of Cain and Abel. At the end of this rivalry, where Aron is killed in war, is where the second, more wholesome Genesis begins. With Abra, the strong willed, admirable, courageous woman who represents the “strong female principle of good” (Bloom 152), Cal is able to resume his life, put his past behind him, and go into a world with Abra where they can together parent a new family of members who, although may not be perfect can instead “triumph over [any] sin” (Bloom 153) they commit and not have to live in fear of God’s wrath. Although this version of Genesis does not exactly follow the Biblical version, it is not “what…Steinbeck tells us about the Bible, but what he tells us about his own philosophy through the use of the Bible. Therefore, East of Eden does not necessarily give us God's concept of man's destiny; it gives us John Steinbeck's” (French 143).

The contrasting ending of Steinbeck’s East of Eden with the biblical version of Genesis allows us to realize that his only motive for writing the novel was not to rewrite a version of the Bible, but to instead show Steinbeck’s nonreligious ideas about the time period and its values. His ambition to recreate a telling of “the whole nasty bloody history of the world” was to not only create an account for his sons about an ancestry that was uncannily similar to his own, but to display his feelings on such incidents as World War I, various migrations to the Salinas Valley, and his disillusionment of society begun by the cruelty and ugliness of mankind. As Jackson Benson wrote, “although the biblical materials in East of Eden may be more confusing than useful, if we can look beyond them…we can perceive that the primary movement in the work is toward…freedom from destructive illusion and self-delusion” (Bloom 113). Despite the seemingly perplexing ideas of re-forging God’s words into a six hundred page epic, Steinbeck uses the idea to connect with a huge proportion of his readers in a way that they know: religion. Through religious allusions, Steinbeck could effectively relate his own principles and emotions into a work that others could understand.

The human conflicts that arise throughout East of Eden and Cannery Row are able to be comprehended in a much greater light because of Steinbeck’s frequent use of referencing the Bible’s happenings, its characters, its vision, and its intense control to consume its believers. The intensity arising from Steinbeck’s works are in part from his talents to have a hold over his readers through compelling writing, as well as the power that comes from the words of the Bible itself. Though Steinbeck’s purpose was not to focus only on the Bible, the consideration put into his allusions is apparent, strengthening his claims and entrancing his critics to delve deep into the lives of ordinary, working class members of society.














Melissa Socarras

Period 1


Critical Analysis Essay: Good vs. Evil


“According to [John] Steinbeck, all art concerns itself with just one story: ‘All novels, all poetry, are built in the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil’” (Newman 118). Throughout Steinbeck’s works, he incorporates the essential theories of good vs. evil and of morality vs. immorality which contributes greatly to the themes of his classic novels and allows him to showcase the struggle of good and evil that people battle within themselves. Steinbeck’s short story Cannery Row presents characters who are consistently faced with the decisions of doing good or doing bad, thus evoking the dichotomy of moral and immoral decisions within this story’s frivolity of human existence. In Steinbeck’s epic novel East of Eden, he masterfully constructs characters that harness and exploit evil in profound ways, thus prompting the novel’s other characters’ struggle to be righteous and honorable as they resist the temptation of corruption. Cannery Row’s encounters with seemingly unimportant characters bring about topics which showcase matters of ethics and humility in order to contribute to the short story’s underlying themes, while East of Eden’s argument of benevolence as compared to malevolence is embodied by the “saga’s monster” Cathy Ames and her interactions with the unbeknownst characters whom she imposes her malice on (Modern Critical Views). 

In Steinbeck’s comedic short story Cannery Row, the main characters Mack and the boys often have run-ins with characters who are irrelevant to the story itself, yet these encounters reveal connections to one of the many themes of the work. One of the primary concepts of this story is the idea of lying and twisting the truth which is introduced through Mack’s proclamation, “God damn it. I hate a liar… Oh, I don’t mind a guy that tells a little one to get along or to hop up a conversation, but I hate a guy that lies to himself” (Cannery Row 77). During their expedition to collect frogs for Cannery Row’s marine-biologist, Doc, the boys encountered a Captain from the police force who Steinbeck uses to subtly suggest the immorality of lying. When the Captain asks the boys why they are trespassing on land that is clearly marked as off limits with appropriate signs, the boys respond through a frantic explanation, “We’ll get right out, Captain. You see, we’re workin’ for some scientists. We’re tryin’ to get some frogs. They’re workin’ on cancer and we’re helpin’ out getting some frogs” (Cannery Row 79). Although the boys are not necessarily lying, they do stretch the truth and exaggerate the situation for the purposes of good and to correct their mistake; however, this slightly falsified explanation prompts the Captain to alter his decision regarding the boys’ punishments by allowing them a moment of redemption. As the scene continues, the Captain begins telling small white lies in order to receive compliments from the boys which presents an interesting argument that lying is more disastrous in figures of authority, such as the Captain, than it is in individuals who are “self-determined social outcasts… who loaf by their wits,” such as the boys (Readings 46). One critic commented that “The people of Cannery Row, representing humanity, are ‘consistent only in their inconsistency’—in short, they contain the admixture of good and evil which renders self-righteous human judgment both irrelevant and absurd” (“Essay Topics”). In the context of this scene, it is apparent that the concept of lies, however big or small, has the potential to alter a person’s judgment and relates directly to the morality within people. Although this encounter with the Captain appears to be relatively frivolous, it alludes to the greater forces of righteousness and wrong-doing within the story.

As Steinbeck’s story in Cannery Row continues, Doc observes the boys in the midst of their “often fumbling, often absurd” presence and hypothesizes them as “true philosophers” in a discussion with his friend Richard Frost (Readings; Cannery Row 133). In this conversation, Doc comments that “all of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites,” which introduces the idea that men who strive for unnecessary amounts of recognition, wealth, and fame are often morally corrupted and lack qualities of humility, while men who live their live as honest and respectable members of society are often happier and increasingly recognized in the world they live (Cannery Row 133). As Doc continues, he comments that oftentimes “the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understand and feeling are concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success.” (135). Charles Child Walcutt, a Steinbeck critic, commented that “the unfettered human spirit of the boys is not socially active, whereas the liberating value of Doc’s science consists in its being a way of life rather than a key or an answer to the riddle of the universe,” (Readings Swisher 46). This literary criticism alludes to Doc’s perception of the boys and their spirit of life as he examines their approach to living from a philosophical and almost scientific manner in an attempt to understand the mindset of the American individual. Richard proceeds to question Doc by asking, “Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too?” which Doc ardently responds by proclaiming that there are Mack and the boys “everywhere in the world” and the “sale of souls to gain the whole world is completely voluntary,” thus suggesting that the ability to be good and moral is somewhere within all people if they let it be (Cannery Row 135). The boys are “somehow noble and touching even in the fact of their own lack of ‘importance’” (Readings).

In East of Eden, Steinbeck creates a purely evil character known as “The ‘Moral Monster,’ [who], according to Steinbeck, is introduced in the Cathy Ames character” (Newman 113). Cathy serves as the ultimate force of hate, malice, and inhumanity who is in constant conflict and struggle with the other characters of the book. When introducing Cathy to the novel itself, a philosophical epiphany regarding monsters in humans states that “you must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous,” which suggests that Cathy is a monster who “was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced all of her life. She was not like other people, never from her birth” and she was said to “make a painful and bewildering stir in her world” (East of Eden 72-73). Critics have proclaimed that “to Steinbeck, Cathy was evil incarnate. There is no rational reason for her behavior. She is just something that happened. She is a liar who knows how to manipulate the truth” (Newman 113-114). Stemming from her childhood days when Cathy violently killed her parents through arson, she exhibits no remorse for her actions and feels that the ultimate solution to any problem, however small or big, is murder or abandonment. As a woman who finds the most pleasure in turning tricks at whorehouses, critics have said that “she hides her evil ways under a heart-shaped face of innocence. She learned very early that her sexuality is useful. The emphasis on her blatant sexual nature was very daring” and she “occupies both a monster and a whore. She is also a far cry from his [Steinbeck’s] usual whore with a heart of gold” (Newman 113; Modern Critical Views). Throughout the novel, Cathy persistently engages in malevolent acts which portrayed her character as the epitome of evil who could not be rectified. “Many critics felt that the character of Cathy weakens the novel because she is so inhuman” (Newman 114). As Cathy engages with other characters in the novel, her actions inadvertently create personal struggles of good and evil which highlight the overwhelming theme of this epic.

In the novel, Cathy interacts with most of the characters on the canvas and her actions lead to tumultuous situations, which usually reflect the basic principle of good vs. evil. When Cathy first meets Adam and Charles Trask, Adam is infatuated with her and is immediately attracted to her. Shortly after meeting her, Adam proclaims his undying love to her and in an interesting turn of events, the two get married without Adam realizing her truly evil nature. Cathy viciously sleeps with Adam’s brother, Charles, simply to cause trouble and havoc in the lives of the people around her which left Charles to soon realize the truth behind Cathy’s innocent routine. One critic proclaimed that “the idea that Adam would fall in love with Cathy immediately and Charles would see right through her, points to Adam’s assumptions about the goodness of all people and Charles’ more realistic assessment of himself and others” (Newman 114). Following this incident, which was still unbeknownst to Adam, the couple moved off of the Trask family farm to Salinas, CA where they set up a new life and Cathy eventually became pregnant. When Cathy discovered she was pregnant, she engaged in her typical villainous actions as she attempted to abort her own child. Dr. Tilson examined her while questioning her motives; “‘You’re a fool. You’ve nearly killed yourself and you haven’t lost your baby. I suppose you took things too, poised yourself, inserted camphor, kerosene, red pepper. My God! Some of the things you women do! Why don’t you want to have the baby? You’ve got a good husband. Don’t you love him? Don’t you intend to speak to me at all? Tell me, damn it!’” (East of Eden 134-135). He then proceeds to explain that Cathy should not attempt to destroy life, she should preserve it, and he soon reveals that she is actually having two babies instead of one; however, his speech has little effect as Cathy’s “eyes were as cold as glass” (135). The absence of remorse in Cathy’s demeanor alludes to the core of her body revolving around evil and hate, which is usually unsettling to those who discover her true self. Cathy’s tendencies towards cruelty and vindictiveness culminate as she tries to leave Adam shortly after the twins’ birth, which Adam whole-heartedly protests;  however, she nefariously shoots him and blatantly walks out. Steinbeck’s vivid imagery allows the reader to envision the complete disregard for human life in Cathy’s persona; “In her right hand she held his .44 Colt, and the black hole in the barrel pointed at him… She shot him. The heavy slug struck him in the shoulder and flattened and tore out a piece of his shoulderblade… She moved slowly toward him, cautiously, as she might toward a wounded animal. He stared up into her eyes, which inspected him impersonally. She tossed the pistol on the floor beside him and walked out of the house. He heard her steps on the porch… and then he could hear her no more. And the monotonous sound that had been there all along was the cry of the twins,” (East of Eden 202). Cathy not only abandons her husband, but she abandons her new born children who are in desperate need of a caring and loving mother. Critic Mimi Reisel Gladstein proclaimed that “Steinbeck shows Cathy as a malevolent mother, one who tries to abort and then abandons her children. [She is] perhaps the most vituperative villainess in American fiction” (Modern Critical Views). Following her act of abandonment, Cathy takes over the operation of a whorehouse when the owner, Faye, is murdered at the hands of Cathy, who is now Kate. Once she settles into living at the whorehouse, Cathy/Kate completely disregards her two sons and her former husband Adam and she unsurprisingly shows no shred of longing for them. Cathy’s associations with the characters throughout the novel, not limited to the ones mentioned, proves that her evil ways affect the lives of everyone as they are always the targets of her malice and disdain.

Throughout this epic novel, Adam’s sons, Caleb and Aron are forced to deal with the repercussions of their parents choices, and Cal is constantly battling to have the goodness within him dominate the evil that his mother passed down to him. Originally, Cal and Aron were told by their father that Cathy had died, mainly because Adam wanted to protect them from the truth of their mother’s past and her decisions. During much of their childhood, Adam was usually regarded as the pure and innocent twin, while Cal was typically seen as the more mysterious and edgy twin, which prompted Cal to question his moral origins and he usually felt like he was internally battling forces of evil against good. However, during his teenager years, Cal inadvertently discovered the truth about his mother’s heinous past which led Cal to believe that this darkness inside of him was a direct result from his mother’s genetic tendencies for malevolent corruption. After discovering Cathy’s past, Cal’s internal strife to lead a moral life becomes increasingly difficult as he gives into the idea that he has no control over his actions and he begins hurting those he cares about most, primarily Aron. One critic critiqued that, “Cal is clearly different from his mother because he has a conscience. He is constantly conflicted over hurting Aron. He loves Adam and Aron, Cathy, on the other hand, never loved anyone and only rejoiced in her evil deeds,” whereas Cal regrets every horrid action he partook in (Newman 114). Following his discovery and lots of time contemplating his mother’s genetic affect on his personality, Cal meets her face to face where he confronts her on the effect she has had on his life and he proceeds to “tell her his wickedness in his own, not hers,” which allows him to open himself up to the idea that he is a far better person than she could ever dream of being (114). Eventually, Cal learns to accept the idea of timshel which proclaims that “everyone is entitled to create their own moral path in their life,” which allows him to move forward with his life, free from the fear of following in his mother’s footsteps. Cal’s struggle to be morally correct and to lead a respectable life reflects one of the primary themes of the novel as well as a battle that many people face everyday.

In addition to the members of the Trask family, Adam, Cal, and Aron, and Cathy, other characters who interact with them contribute to the balance of good and evil within the novel. Lee, the Trask family’s loyal servant acts as the “voice of reason throughout the novel,” as he mediates all the happenings within the household (Newman 116). Lee is the wise sage of this epic novel and “many critics felt that he is far too convenient and wise to be a real human being” (115). Lee would often help Adam care for the boys when they were younger, and as they grew up, he was always the constant factor in their lives who loved them through everything because he believed that “the greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with crime guilt—and there is the story of mankind” (East of Eden 270). One critic claimed that “Lee is the truest proponent of free will in the novel. He firmly believes that children do not have to repeat their parents’ mistakes,” which is a fact he makes clear as he convinces “Cal [that] he is not evil,” even if he had made mistakes before (Newman 116). As the reinforcing element of the novel, Lee serves the purpose of embracing that morality and humility can be found in any individual if they simply employ the qualities. Much like Lee, Samuel Hamilton plays the reinforcing role of good in the novel which is a grand contrast to the evil that filters throughout it. Samuel is one of Adam’s closest friends after they settle into Salinas and he is always there to extend his help—regardless of the matter it’s concerning. Although Samuel was not the wealthiest or most powerful man in his society, he led a good, moral, and honest life which gave him much accreditation among his peers as they immensely respected him. Samuel is a primary example of how living an admirable life can gain a person an overwhelming amount of respect, both during their life and after death, as compared to living a life full of corruption and greed and wickedness which lends itself to a poor memory and no remorse upon death. Another character who represented the good and pure of the novel was Steinbeck’s expertly crafted character, Abra, who is said to “represent ‘the strong female principle of good’” (Modern Critical Views). Abra is a teenage girl who stumbles into Aron and Cal’s life and immediately starts a relationship with Aron that is sweet, honest, and tender, which leaves Cal feeling increasingly jealous thus exposing his darker side. Abra and Cal are a lot alike as both characters recognize that there possess a form of evilness deep inside themselves, but it has been said that “Abra who is very much aware of the bad in herself, consciously chooses the good” and “not only does she choose a positive role for herself, but she encourages Cal in that direction also” (Modern Critical Views). Throughout Aron and Abra’s relationship, her truest qualities are apparent as she is described as having “‘wisdom and sweetness in her expression,’” and Lee later comments that “‘ a few are women from the moment they are born. Abra has the loveliness of woman, and the courage—and the strength—and the wisdom” (East of Eden). Lee’s description of Abra is not only wise and honest, but it reveals that Abra’s decision to follow a path of goodness has stemmed from her roots and that she will forever be a prominently moral individual who will never let evil overcome her. Characters such as these allow Steinbeck to brilliantly showcase that forces of evil are frequently counterbalanced by forces of good and purity.

Throughout Steinbeck’s works, he typically incorporates the ideas of good versus evil and morality versus immortality as he believes that these are the guiding factors of human existence. Through the characters and events in both Cannery Row and East of Eden, Steinbeck was able to masterfully create another world which demonstrates how immensely different forces of life come together into one situation and effect the decisions that people make, the relationships that they have, and their outlooks on the life they lead.















Cannery Row Passages

Passage 1

         Doc said, “Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think,” he went on, “that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else.” This speech so dried out Doc’s throat that he drained his beer glass. He waved two fingers in the air and smiled. “There’s nothing like that first taste of beer,” he said.

            Richard Frost said, “I think they’re just like anyone else. They just haven’t any money.

            “They could get it,” Doc said. “They could ruin their lives and get money. Mack has qualities of a genius. They’re all very clever if they want something. They just know the nature of things to well to be caught in that wanting.

            If Doc had known of the sadness of Mack and the boys he would not have made the next statement, but no one had told him about the social pressure that was exerted against the inmates of the Palace.

            He poured beer slowly into his glass. “I think I can show you proof,” he said. “You see how they are sitting facing this way? Well- in about half an hour the Fourth of July Parade is going to pass on Lighthouse Avenue. By just turning their heads they can see it, by standing up they can watch it, and by walking two short blocks, they can be right beside it. Now I’ll bet you a quart of beer they won’t even turn their heads.”

            “Suppose they don’t?” said Robert Frost. “What will that prove?”

            “What will it prove?” cried Doc. “Why just that they know what will be in the parade. They will know that the Mayor will ride first in an automobile with bunting streaming from the hood. Next will come Long Bob on his white horse with the flag. Then the city council, then two companies of soldiers from the Presidio, next the Elks with purple umbrellas, then the Knights Templar in white ostrich feathers and carrying swords. Mack and they boys know that. The band will play. They’ve seen it all. They don’t have to look again.”

            “The man who doesn’t live who doesn’t have to look at a parade,” said Richard Frost.

            “Is it a bet then?”

            “It’s a bet.”

“It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system.  And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.








Cannery Row (Passage One):


1. Which of the following rhetorical devices is not used in the passage?

            A. Alliteration

            B. Repetition

            C. Aphorism

            D. Asyndeton

            E. Paradox


2. The tone of the passage can best be described as:

            A. Nostalgic

            B. Derisive

            C. Condescending

            D. Stupefied

            E. Intuitive


3. The contrast of Doc and Richard Frost respectively can best be described as:

            A. Intellectual vs. Aporetic

            B. Erudite vs. Trusting

            C. Fortuitous vs. Cynical

            D. Abstruse vs. esoteric

            E. Birdbrained vs. Facetious


4. In the first paragraph, what is the significance of Mack and the boys “’satisfy[ing] their

     appetites’” and then Doc “draining his beer glass?”

            A. Symbolizes Mack and the boys living a genuine life which cherishes simplicity versus

    corrupted success by way of Doc’s enjoyment of a simple, yet precious commodity

B. Doc drinking the beer, trivializes the paradoxically important concept of living that he

    was preaching

            C. To provide imagery and action to a facetious speech

            D. To show genuine compassion for the boys and their hardships

            E. Demonstrates Doc’s concealed success in comparison to the boys’ failed ambitions


5.  In the last paragraph, what is the underlying meaning to the passage as a whole in Doc’s


            A. Showcases the voracity that has consumed the minds of American men while

                presenting the failures that accompany honesty and understanding

            B. Doc mocks mankind’s tendency to revere benevolence and humility which brings little

success but happiness to the individual, yet strives for corruption and greed which   

brings success but misery to the individual

            C. To demonstrates the immense size and repercussions of Miller’s nose and present

                 Klipfel’s argument for Armageddon due to WalMart’s exuberance

            D. To symbolize the path that Mack and the boys have embraced and cherished,

                 regardless of the lack of important in their life

            E. Doc mocks the commercialization and materialistic status quo of a member of the

                American working class

Passage 2

“What the hell are you doing here?” he asked.

            “Nothing,” said Mack.

            “The land’s posted. No fishing, hunting, fires, camping. Now you just pack up and put that fire out and get off this land.”

            Mack stood up humbly. “I didn’t know Captain,” he said. “Honest we never seen the sign, Captain.”

            “There’s signs all over. You couldn’t have missed them.”

            “Look Captain, we made a mistake and we’re sorry,” said Mack. He paused and looked closely at the slouching figure. “You are a military man, aren’t you sir? I can always tell. Military man don’t carry his shoulders the same as ordinary people. I was in the army so long, I can always tell.”

            Imperceptibly the shoulders of the man straightened, nothing obvious, but he held himself differently.

            “I don’t allow fires on my place,” he said.

            “Well, we’re sorry,” said Mack. “We’ll get right out, Captain. You see, we’re workin’ for some scientists. We’re tryin’ to get some frogs. They’re workin’ on cancer and we’re helpin’ out getting some frogs.”

            The man hesitated for a moment. “What do they do with the frogs?” he asked.

            “Well, sir,” said Mack, “they give cancer to the frogs and then they can study and experiment and they got it nearly licked if they can just get some frogs. But if you don’t want us on your land, Captain, we’ll get right out. Never would of come in if we knew.” Suddenly Mack seemed to see the pointer for the first time. “By God that’s a fine-lookin’ bitch,” he said enthusiastically. “She looks like Nola that win the field trials in Virginia last year. She a Virginia dog, Captain?”

            The Captain hesitated and then he lied. “Yes,” he said shortly. “She’s lame. Tick got her right on her shoulder.”

            Mack was instantly solicitous. “Mind if I look, Captain? Come, girl. Come on, girl.” The pointer looked up at her master and then sidled up to Mack. “Pile on some twigs so I can see,” he said to Hazel.

            “It’s up where she can’t lick it,” said the captain and he leaned over Mack’s shoulder to look.

            Mack pressed some pus out of the evil-looking crater on the dog’s shoulder. “I had a dog had a thing like this and it went right in and killed him. She just had pups, didn’t she?”

            “Yes,” said the captain, “six. I put iodine on that place.”

            “No,” said Mack, “that won’t draw. You got any epsom salts up at your place?”

            “Yes-there’s a big bottle.”

            “Well you make a hot poultice of epsom salts and put it on there, She’s weak, you know, from the pups. Be a shame if she got sick now. You’d lose the pups too.” The pointer looked deep into Mack’s eyes and then she licked his hand.

            “Tell you what I’ll do, Captain. I’ll look after her myself. Epsom salt’ll do the trick. That’s the best thing.”

            The captain stroked the dog’s head. “You know, I’ve got a pond up by the house that’s so full of frogs I can’t sleep nights. Why don’t you look up there? They bellow all night. I’d be mighty glad to get rid of them.”


Passage 2 Questions

1. In the beginning of the second half of the passage, Steinbeck states that the Captain lied, but never mentions the lies of Mack and the boys. What role does this play?

A. Steinbeck is using the Captain’s lies to show the corruption of even of authority figures.

B. Steinbeck uses the Captain’s white lie to contrast with Mack and the boys’ lies to an authority figure.

C. Steinbeck shows that Mack and the boys lie in a moralistic way, while the Captain lies for no reason.

D. Steinbeck wishes to accuse authority figures for the corruption of society.

E. Steinbeck enjoys using the corruption of society figures

2. What causes the change in the Captain’s tone from the beginning of the passage to the end of the passage?

            A. The Captain recognizes the misunderstanding and warms up to the boys.

            B. The Captain is playing along with Mack and the boys, and is trying to set a trap for       them.  

C. He begins to trust Mack and the boys because of their offer to help his dog and their work to cure cancer.

            D. The Captain’s tone doesn’t change at all, but instead changes his thoughts.

            E. His sympathetic nature doesn’t allow for him to be angry at the boys for too long, and instead creates a lighter mood by bringing up his dog.

3. Which of the following best describes the Captain’s change from the beginning of the passage to the end?

            A. From turbulent to eloquent

            B. From irritated to amiable

            C. From impassioned to sympathetic

            D. From polymath to anomalous

            E. From provoked to disconcerted

4. Mack continuously praises and attempts to help the Captain. Why?

            A. Steinbeck wishes to directly contrast Mack with the other boys.

            B. Steinbeck chooses to use Mack as the one to interact with all other characters besides   Doc.

            C. He understands that the only way to get what he wants from the Captain is by helping             him.

            D. He is trying not only to get out of trouble, but also get on the Captain’s good side so    he can perhaps help him on his quest to get frogs for Doc’s party.   

            E. He is sincere and always wishes to help whenever the occasion calls for it.

5. Which of the following literary devices is not used in the passage?

A. Rhetorical question and appeal to pathos

            B. Asyndeton and choppy syntax

            C. Choppy syntax and repetition

            D. Appeal to pathos and asyndeton

            E. Allusion and repetition




East of Eden Passage

A child may ask, “What is the world’s story about?” And a grown man or woman may wonder, “What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we’re at it, what’s the story about?”
                        I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story.  A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

Herodotus, in the Persian War, tells a story of how Croesus, the richest and most-favored king of his time, asked Solon the Athenian a leading question. He would not have asked it if he had not been worried about the answer. “Who,” he asked, “is the luckiest person in this world?” He must have been eaten with doubt and hungry for reassurance. Solon told him of three lucky people in old times. And Croesus more than likely did not listen, so anxious was he about himself. And when Solon did not mention him, Croesus was forced to say, “Do you not consider me lucky?”   

Solon did not hesitate in his answer. “How can I tell?” he said. “You aren’t dead yet.”

And this answer must have haunted Croesus dismally as his luck disappeared, and his wealth and his kingdom. And as he was being burned on a tall fire, he may have thought of it and perhaps wished he has not asked or not been answered.

And in our time, when a man dies—if he has had wealth an influence and power and all the vestments that arouse envy, and after the living take stock of the dead man’s property and his eminence and works and monuments—the question is still there: Was his life good or was it evil?—which is another way of putting Croesus’s question. Envies are gone, and the measuring stick is: “Was he loved or was he hated? Is his death felt as a loss or does some kind of joy come of it?”
                        I remember clearly the deaths of three men. One was the richest man of the century, who, having clawed his way to wealth through the souls and bodies of men, spent many years trying to buy back the love he had fortified and by that process performed great service of his rise. I was on a ship when he died. The news was posted on the bulletin board, and nearly everyone received the news with pleasure. Several said, “Thank God that son of a bitch is dead.”

Then there was a man, smart as Satan, who, lacking some perception of human dignity and knowing all too well every aspect of human weakness and wickedness, used his special knowledge to warp men, to buy men, to bribe and threaten and seduce until he found himself in a position of great power. He clothes his motives in the names of virtue, and I have wondered whether he ever knew that no gift will ever buy back a man’s love when you have removed his self-love. A bribed man can only hate his briber. When this man died the nation rang with praise, and, just beneath, with gladness that he was dead.

There was a third man, who perhaps made many errors in performance but whose effective life was devoted to making men brave and dignified and good in a time when they were poor and frightened and when ugly forces were loose in the world to utilize their fears. This man was hated by the few. When he died the people burst into tears in the streets and their minds wailed, “What can we do now? How can we go on without him?”

In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loves. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to be loved. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.

We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.



























East of Eden


1. What is the function of the rhetorical questions in the first paragraph?

            A. To address the progression of the world and its society

            B. To address the contrast being youth and adulthood regarding the perception of the


C. To present a problem that is rectified later in the passage

D. To introduce minor characters who affect the overall meaning of the passage

E. To address the concept of ignorance and naiveté in the minds of humanities’  

    perceptions regarding the world in which they live in


2. Which of the following rhetorical devices is not used in the passage?

            A. Anaphora

            B. Extended Metaphor

            C. Onomatopoeia

            D. Parataxis

            E. Exemplum


3. In the second paragraph, the author capitalizes “Pearl White.” What do you think this means?

            A. It symbolizes purity and a sense of wonder about the world around them. It’s

    capitalizes to show its true importance and to heighten its meaning.

            B. This phrasing represents a naivety that people have about the society in which they

live. It’s capitalized in order to satirically make something negative appear as a positive.

C. It is in reference to a metaphorically spherical shape that the society has. It’s

    capitalized so that the reader takes special note of the line.

            D. It represents a haze or glazed over perception of the world that hides it’s true realities.

    It’s importance is expressed through capitalization.

E. These two words are in reference to a simplicity in society in which things revolve

    around a certain order.


4. What relation does the Persian War reference have to the essential theory of recognition after 


            A. Shows the reader an example of a man being held in disregard after his untimely 


            B. Showcases the idea that most humans are concerned with the opinions that others

    have of them.

            C. Connects the present day time and situation to a seemingly similar situation from

    history in order to develop a deeper connection through the ages.

            D. Provides a comedic example that connects back to the idea of being loved or hated.

            E. Provides the reader with an example of someone’s life worth, gains, and ambitions

    being assessed after death and alludes to an ironic twist of fate.


5. What is the overall tone of this passage?

            A. Sardonic

            B. Astringent

            C. Jocose

            D. Philosophical

            E. Insolent



6. What is the overall purpose of including the story of the three different men?

            A. To provide a outlet for comparison to the real world relationships and the relationships

    of created characters; much like the basis of the entire novel.

            B. To provide an adequate comparison of three different people and how their actions

lead to people’s disdains or admirations towards them. It provides a venue for the readers to relate to.

            C. Takes three seemingly different men, and reveals underlying similarities which

    connects them together in profound ways.

            D. Provides a biblical reference to the higher powers and distinguishing each mans place

                in the heavens after their death based upon their actions throughout their life.

            E. Provides a story which sheds light to man’s flaws and their imperfections which in turn

    creates a particular image of them to other people.


7. When describing the second man in the story of the three men, Steinbeck compares him to

   “Satan.” What does this add to the characterization of the man?

            A. Both men (assuming Satan is man) posses the abilities to control men and exploit their

    imperfections to gain their desires while disregarding morality and dignity.

            B. Comments that both posses the qualities of evil, but somewhere deep inside, there are

    hints of good waiting to be brought out and exploited.

C. Creates an extended metaphor which sardonically compares the man to the ways of    

    Satan, thus providing a righteous relationship between the characterizations.

D. Sets up a situation in which the man can be harshly critiqued by the readers just like

    he is critiqued by the people around him.

            E. Allows the reader to make a biblical connection to the dark side of faith.


8. Which aspects of this passage are most dominant?

                        I. Extended Metaphors

                        II. Anecdotal Evidence

                        III. Dialogue in Stories

                        IV. Allusions to Outside Influences

            A. I only

            B. III only

            C. I, II, and IV only

            D. II and III only

            E. All of the above


9. How does the last paragraph encompass the idea of good vs. evil in society?

            A. It’s a biblical analogy focusing on the darkness of Hades in comparison to the light of

     the heavens

            B. Essentially, the basis of good and morality is always present and can never be

     completely smothered, only trapped and constantly fighting to escape, while evil is    

born in an individual, but has to be consciously unleashed

C. An in-depth reference to the essential theme in all of Steinbeck’s novels and short  


            D. It’s a short and concise paragraph which wraps up the passage and provides closing

    arguments for both the good and evil aspects of society.

E. It introduces the idea of virtue to accompany goodness, which was not addressed in

    any other part of the passage.


10. What’s the speaker’s primary position?

            A. Curious about the relationship between good and evil among members of society.

            B. Enlightened to the perception of a man’s purpose in the world.

            C. Close-minded to the possibility of goodness trumping evil and to the idea of morality

    prevailing in men versus immorality.

            D. Speculative to the changing perceptions of a man’s life one death has been bestowed

    upon them.

            E. Intrigued by the complexities of man and the general foundation of good within them

    which consistently battles with the outside influences of evil.




























Works Cited


“Cannery Row.” Spark Notes. 2009. 12 March 2009.



Comprehensive Research and Study Guide Bloom’s Major Novelists: John Steinbeck. Various

authors. Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.


“East of Eden.” About John Steinbeck. June 1995. 26 February 2009.



“East of Eden.” Spark Notes. 2009. 12 March 2009. <>.


“Ed Ricketts and the ‘Dream’ of Cannery Row.” NPR. 2009. 26 February 2009.



“Essay Topics and Critical Commentaries.” HHS. 26 February 2009.



Florence, Donna. People to know: John Steinbeck. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers Inc.,



French, Warren. John Steinbeck. Ed. Sylvia E. Bowman. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1975. 141-



"John Steinbeck." Great American Authors Twentieth Century. Ed. R. Baird Shuman. Vol. ll.

Terrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2002. 1445-1466.


“John Steinbeck.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 15 February 2009.



Modern Critical Views: John Steinbeck. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House

Publishers, 1987.


Newman, Gerald, and Eleanor Newman Layfield. A Student's Guide to John Steinbeck. Berkeley

Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2004. 95-96, 102-123. 


Readings on John Steinbeck. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc.,

1996. 29, 46-47. 


Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. Hudson Street, New York: Penguin Group, 1994.


Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. Hudson Street: New York, Penguin Group, 1992.