John Steinbeck's East of Eden - Good Versus Evil Essay

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Good Versus Evil in East of Eden

The idea of good versus evil is illustrated in several ways in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. This is seen through the external conflicts in the novel, the internal conflicts of the characters, and a universal understanding of the battle between good and evil.

External conflicts between the main characters, Cathy and Adam, reflect the idea of good versus evil in their relationship. Cathy, who is much like Satan, creates a huge fight between Adam and his brother Charles with her manipulations. Later, she ruins Adam's dreams and breaks his heart when she shoots him and leaves, sending Adam into a deep depression. After twelve years, Adam snaps out of his dream world and confronts Cathy.
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(Lee is Adam's Chinese servant, who really is a main character in this novel). Lee's mother dies as a result of a rape by railway workers who she had hidden her gender and later her pregnancy from. The same men who raped Lee's mother help take care of him as he grows up. The taking care of the infant Lee is seen as a light in a very dark world.

Another way the idea of good versus evil is expressed is by the internal conflicts of the characters. Cathy is good example of a character that has an inner conflict of good versus evil. Cathy, the most evil of all in this novel, kills her parents, manipulates Adam and Charles, attempts to abort her children, shoots Adam, abandons her twin sons once they are born, and murders Faye, her friend and boss. However, the good in Cathy overcomes the bad. By the end of the novel she becomes religious and she leaves all of her fortune to her son. Charles is also a good example of a character struggling with inner conflict. Whenever Adam beats him in a game, Charles becomes very abusive towards him; once he almost kills Adam. However, Charles also protects Adam from others and he does, in fact, love him. He "fought any boy who ... slurred Adam and ... protected Adam from his father's harshness" (Steinbeck 491). Adam is forced to join the service and is sent to war, Charles tries to keep in touch with him by writing letters. In
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