John Steinbeck's East of Eden: Modern Biblical Story of Cain and Abel

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John Steinbeck's East of Eden: Modern Biblical Story of Cain and Abel

" And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, ' Where is Abel thy brother?' And he said, ' I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?' And he said, ' What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.' And Cain said unto the Lord, ' My punishment is greater
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Charles never kills his brother, but his jealousy and hatred remains with him throughout the book. Adam joins the army and leaves the farm, but after serving his time and wandering for many months he finally returns to the farm. It is at the farm where Adam first encounters Cathy Ames. The narrator calls Cathy a monster, a person with no morals, as a young girl burned her parents alive in their house and stole their money. Cathy ends up at the Trask farm after being beaten and left for dead by her lover. Adam nurses her back to health and finds himself falling in love with her. He marries her and they move to California. Cathy becomes pregnant and gives birth to twin boys: Caleb and Aaron. After giving birth to the twins, she shoots Adam in the shoulder and escapes to Salinas to become a madam of a whorehouse after murdering her predecessor. Caleb and Aaron (Aron) enact the second generation of Cain and Abel in the Trask family. Caleb, called Cal, is dark and conniving and Aron is handsome and liked by everyone. Just as it was with their father and Charles, Caleb yearns for his father's love and attention, but it is Aron who receives his father's love. Adam never tells his sons about their mother but Cal finds out. When Cal is rejected by his father, he seeks revenge against his brother by taking him to see their mother at the whorehouse.

This seems to be the simple retelling again of the tragedy