The novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck is an allegory to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, and many of its characters become embodiments of both good and evil. As they struggle to overcome what has been decided for them they are taught they hold the power to overcome and rise above their destiny’s. When the Hebrew idea of “timshel” is introduced to the allegory of Cain and Abel, it become apparent that whether life is predestined or not; mankind holds the ultimate ability of deciding what will become of himself. Adam’s choice to move on from Cathy, Cal’s decision to forgive himself, and Cathy’s decision to let evil overcome her prove that overcoming what is predestined for one lies in the hands of the individual.
The main character Adam Trask proves that by letting go of Cathy and deciding to create a new type of Eden that mankind holds the ultimate decision to rise above their destines. After finding Cathy and marrying her, Adam believes that he has found the missing part of his life. Cathy becomes the emblem of perfection and a key to happiness for him. As Adam continues to fall in love with her he starts to fall more out of touch with reality causing him to miss the obvious signals that Cathy does not feel the same way about him. Her manipulative ways are able to fool Adam’s kindness. Adam, being too naive to pay attention the obvious indications that Cathy does not love him is left in complete shock after she shoots and leaves him after the birth of their sons. After centralizing his dream around creating his own Eden with Cathy as his own Eve, he se...
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...continue letting her destiny control her instead of overcoming personal struggles like both Adam and Cal were able to do.
The decision of Adam and Cal Trask to overcome their struggles and Cathy’s decision to succumb to evil prove that the choice of what to do with one’s life is completely up to the individual. John Steinbeck’s use of the biblical story of Cain and Abel builds on the idea that a person is completely responsible for choosing what becomes of them in result of a word, an action and a memory. Undoubtedly everyone has the choice whether or not they wish to triumph over the pain and the sins they are struggling with. After all, look at Ghandi he witnessed children burdened with evil inheritance walk away surmounted because of their strength to rein over evil.
Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 1952. Print.
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