John Steinbeck's East of Eden - A Study in Human Development

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East of Eden: A study in human development

The characteristics of people are formed by multiple factors. In many situations, children are raised under similar conditions, however, their later characteristics and life choices are very different. In the book, East of Eden, author John Steinbeck explores the development of humans, from childhood, to adulthood, and eventually, to death. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, is a genealogical novel about the lives of the Trasks, particularly the main character in the book, Adam Trask. Along the way, the Hamiltons, Ames, and many other characters are introduced. Steinbeck makes a point of showing the continually changing nature of some characters, while describing the ceaseless
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From reading such descriptions, Steinbeck plants in the readers mind that actions are inherited. He seems to say that all people act as those before them.

Soon after, Steinbeck counteracts this image in his descriptions of Kate (Cathy Ames). Kate was born into a ordinary situation. She had loving parents and all the necessities of life. But, from the time she was born, there was a factor to her, something unknowable.

"Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life. Some balance wheel was misweighted, some gear out of ratio. She was not like other people, never was from birth. . . . . As a child may be born without an arm, so may one be born without kindness or the potential of a conscience (526)."

Cathy’s parents never understood why their daughter was different nor what exactly made her that way. "Mr. Ames came in contact with other children away from his home and he felt that Cathy was not like other children. It was a matter more felt than known. He was uneasy about his daughter but he could not have said why" (528). Cathy was different from others, much of the book is devoted to examining this difference, but no answers are ever found. "The trouble is that since we cannot know what she wanted, we will never know whether or not she got it" (603). There are other characters in the book that evolve similarly; with unknown reasons to be the way the become.
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