Lee’s Function in East of Eden: a Spokesman of Steinbeck’s Thought and the Oriental Philosophy

2968 Words12 Pages
1. Introduction As Shimomura(1982) points out, Steinbeck’s non-teleological thinking and the Taoism, which was put forward by the ancient Chinese philosopher named Lao Tzu, share a great deal of similarity, in that both of them view human beings from a detached and holistic standpoint. It is not clearly known how Steinbeck, who is certainly a product of his time and his American milieu, came to be acquainted with and interested in Lao Tzu's philosophy, but in Journal of A Novel, he appreciates Lao Tzu so highly that he places Lao Tzu beside Plato, Buddha, Christ, Paul, and the Great Hebrew prophets. It might safely be said that there must have been a seedbed in his indigenous thought where a seed of Lao Tzu was sown, germinated, and…show more content…
Furthermore, another interesting point in this relation lies in the passiveness of such a low position. A person in a low position is unprotected by himself, but by becoming a servant to another person in a higher position he begins to play a role in his own right and at last controls his master. This master-servant relationship uttered by Lee reveals that once he has gotten employment by his master, even a helpless person who has little social function by himself not only begins to fulfill his own function but also gains predominance over his master. Consequently, this means that in this relationship a master is no longer a master and a servant is also no longer a servant. Eventually in this work this relationship results in the fact that Lee actually controls Adam in every situation. 3. Lee as a spokesman of Lao Tzu’s philosophy Similarly in the Lao Tzu, a collection of wise-sayings which were written by a person named Lao Tzu about in the fourth century BC(Fukunaga, Hachiya, Takahashi), the same topsy-turveydom in the sense of values can be found in one of the eighty fragmentary writings. In chapter 78 it says: In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass

    More about Lee’s Function in East of Eden: a Spokesman of Steinbeck’s Thought and the Oriental Philosophy

      Get Access