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John Steinbeck's East of Eden - A Biblical Allegory Essay

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East of Eden: A Biblical Allegory

In East of Eden (1952) John Steinbeck creates a powerful novel using biblical allegories. By doing this, he can deliver a clear message by describing something unfamiliar to his audience and comparing it to something more familiar. Set in modern times, East of Eden retells the famous story of the downfall of Adam and Eve, and the jealous rivalry between Cain and Able. Steinbeck also creates many other characters throug his novel, that capture a biblical sense and help portray an image of the vast confusion of life.

One character that resembles a biblical character is Cathy Ames. Throughout the entirety of the novel, her character portrays that of a monstrous almost inhuman creature. "...
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During her labor a look of murderous, unforgiving hatred comes over her. So much in fact, that she bit and mangled the hand that helped her during the birth. Wanting nothing to do with the newly born twins, Cathy flees her home, husband and the two infants she has bore. Her manipulation of sex now becomes even more prevalent. Having nowhere to go, Cathy known now as Kate, takes shelter in a whore house. She quickly begins work and in almost no time has made a name for herself. Gradually she works her way up through the ranks and is soon running the house on her own. Her sense of power clearly comes from hurting and destroying others through sex. During one of Adams two visits to Kate, he discovers just how devious she truly is. "She took out a photograph. 'Look there. That's the State Senator. He thinks he's going to run for Congress. He likes whips. That streak there-that's a whip mark. ... In a few years I'll be going away. And when I do-those pictures will be dropped in the mail ....'" (322-23). Her scheme of blackmail displays her lack of a conscious. Because of this, Steinbeck has created a powerful character that provokes disillusion, or an emotion felt when one's self patterns are distorted. As seen thougout the novel, Cathy's own evilness arouses the devil within her.

One of Steinbeck's most compelling characters in East of Eden is Adam Trask. In the beginning of the story he searches long for his Eve, and a sense of happiness he knows exists somewhere.
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