Essay #3 Literary Analysis

Writing Seminar

March 20, 2000

Throughout the novel East of Eden, John Seinbeck constructs his characters in such a way that they appear to have enormous depth. Steinbeck creates his characters so that it is impossible for the reader to label or stereotype his characters. Steinbeck continually toys with the idea of whether Caleb can restrain his evil or if the evil is totally beyond his control. I believe that there are instances in the book that illustrate the idea clearly that Cal has complete control over is actions and the evil which was born into him.

While Cal is lying aside of Aron in bed, is one of the first instances that show the idea that Cal opposes the evil inside of him. Steinbeck makes Calís personal thoughts available to the reader, which allows the reader to perceive that Calís will to overcome his evil is passionate. Cal thinks, "Dear Lord, let me be like Aron. Donít make me mean. I donít want to be." Due to the fact that these thoughts are Calís personal feelings they are not influenced by outside incentives, such as the need to compete with his brother. It can be assumed that Calís will to be without malevolence is present and continually on his mind.

It is obvious that Cal wants desperately to overpower what he thinks is an impossible feat. It is not until he comes to the realization that he possesses the ability to choose his own destiny that he can really work towards being a good person. Cal canít accept the fact that he has the power to alter his personality until he speaks to his mother face to face. Cal says to his mother, " I was afraid I had you in me. I donít have to be you. I just know. It just came to me whole. If Iím mean, itís my own mean." By recognizing this fact, Cal overcomes his first obstacle in becoming closer to the person he wants to be like, Aron. This self-realization gives Cal the motivation necessary to help him accomplish his will to overcome his mean personality.

Another event that encouraged Cal and gave him the incentive to become a caring person is the bonding experience that he had with his father. Cal felt for the first time in his whole life that he had something that Aron didnít, Adamís trust. When Adam confided in Cal that he too was put in jail, Cal felt that a connection between him and his father was established. This connection was special, because it brought Cal closer to his father. Cal desperately tries to earn Adamís love and praise throughout the novel, and this event brings him one step closer to the father he wants to be loved by. Adam, by saying, "I trust you, son" opened an entirely new world to Cal. The knowledge that he could obtain something that his brother could not changed his whole outlook on life. It is as if a transformation occurs to Cal after he has this conversation with his father. Calís personality becomes more favorable and pleasant, showing that with effort, he can be a nice person.

It is these three events, which allow the reader to see Cal for who he really is. It is because Cal misunderstands himself, that other people are unable to judge him accurately. After he reaches realization that he does have control over what he becomes, he is able to use his will to become a better caring person.


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