The Bible as a Sustained Allusion
The Bible is a sustained allusion throughout the course of East of Eden, paralleling with the eternal story of Cain and Abel. According to the Bible, Cain is the "tiller of the ground" (Genesis 4:2). Caleb Trask, a farmer at heart, made a vast amount of money by selling beans. Upon presenting Adam with his present of fifteen thousand dollars, Adam not only discarded the gift, but caused Cal pain by comparing him to his godly brother, Aron, who graduated high school and started college at an early age. Adam wished that Cal could have given him something to be proud of-something momentous. Adam's reaction induced Cal with excessive wrath out of rejection. In the Bible, the Lord "had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?'" (Genesis 4:4-7).
"Your son is marked with guilt out of himself . . . don't crush him with rejection, Adam. Give him your blessing. Help him, Adam! Free him! Bless him!" (777). The dry lips of the sickly, dying man parted and failed, then tried again to form the name of his son. His lungs filled, then he "expelled the air and his lips combed the rushing sigh. His whispered word seemed to hang in the air . . . then his eyes closed and he slept" (778).
Set in the growing Salinas Valley in northern California during the time span stretching from the Civil War to World War I, East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, is the powerful tale of an idealistic man desperately trying to raise his motherless twin boys solely with the hel...
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...My punishment is greater than I can bear! I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me" (Genesis 4:13-14). As Lee and Cal stood before Adam on his deathbed, Lee pleaded to Adam, "Your son is marked with guilt out of himself-out of himself-almost more than he can bear . . . give him your blessing. Don't leave him alone with his guilt. Give him your blessing!" (777). Adam's breath came quick with his effort and then, slowly, his right hand lifted-lifted an inch and then fell back. In response to Cain's cries, the Lord assured Cain that he would not be harmed. "And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden" (Genesis 4:15-16).
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