East of Eden East of Eden discussion


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East of Eden taught in schools

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Katie McNeil I was just curious why don't schools teach East of Eden? I don't know any high schools or colleges that do. I am just curious to see why people do not think it's taught, other than it's 601 pages long. It's considered Steinbeck's greatest novel by many and Steinbeck is considered a great American novelist. i love this book and just wanted to know what you guys think :)


message 2: by Monty J (last edited Mar 30, 2017 11:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying It IS Steinbeck's greatest book, in "my book."

It is taught at college level, but I think the book's obvious religious theme puts it's head on the chopping block in grade schools. I have no problem with this because I respect separation of church anc state. There are plenty of other choices among his work.


Katie McNeil Monty J wrote: "It IS Steinbeck's greatest book, in "my book."

It is taught at college level, but I think the book's obvious religious theme puts it's head on the chopping block in grade schools. I have no proble..."



I see what you mean but I do not think we should rule out any book with any religion in it. I understand why high schools may not want to teach it but I think it would be great for a college leveled American literature class.


Maddy I'm a sophomore in high school and we read it over the summer before the year began. The theme for the class is Great American Literature and the American Dream. We focused more on the aspects of the American Dream in the novel rather the the religious undertones. I thought it was a wonderful book and while it is a bit long, it was worth definitely worth reading.


Monty J Heying Maddy wrote: "I'm a sophomore in high school and we read it over the summer before the year began. The theme for the class is Great American Literature and the American Dream. We focused more on the aspects of t..."

That's encouraging, Maddy. I'm curious what was in the book about the American Dream. For me it was all about Nature versus Nurture and the liberating supremacy of Free Will.


Holly I read this book in a Nobel Prize Authors class in my junior year of high school thirty years ago. I am still grateful that I took this class as it exposed me to Steinbeck, Buck and some others I would not have read otherwise. As a non-christian, the religious themes in this book did not bother me at all as it was presented in a very generalized way. Monty J made a valid point about the themes of nature v nurture and free will; I read 'A Clockwork Orange' with its theme of free will right around the same time and it made for an interesting comparison.


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy In the same way that The Chocolate War is censored in schools for (one reason anyway) implied masturbation, East of Eden is censored not just for the religious aspects but also the sexual aspects. I am a high school English teacher, and although this is one of my favorite novels of all time, I would not be able to teach it. I am in a very conservative state and would have parents picketing to have me fired just over the poking the Madame in the clit scene. I could use it if we had an AP English course or novels course, but my school does not. It is a pity how parents try to censor content in books in schools but do nothing to censor the movies, video games, and Web sites their children consume.


D.L. Christopher Holly wrote: "I read this book in a Nobel Prize Authors class in my junior year of high school thirty years ago. I am still grateful that I took this class as it exposed me to Steinbeck, Buck and some others I ..."

That's a real shame - art is unique in the portrayal of humanity's animal nature (both the positive and negative aspects) in that unlike news broadcasts it seeks to explore and encourage discussion of that which it portrays. I'd rather my children approached human nature in a constructive manner during discussion of literature than it come as a surprise later in life - much the same as sex education in that respect.


Loganberry08 The best things in life are usually found by mistake or maybe they find us. The Old Man in the Sea is taught in high school and it is the most laughed at book by the end of senior year, they just cant understand the elegance of a book that takes place on a small boat. Most high school students wouldn't care to understand the greatness of East of Eden, which is a shame. The lessons i learned from the book i wish i had learned when i was much younger. The religious themes are more of a cultural study and how the bible and its translations are interpreted in different aspects of the the 18th and 19th century. But the greater theme and motif of Greatness and how to find our own greatness, is valuable and needs to be introduced to kids in one way or another.


Monty J Heying Loganberry08 wrote: "The best things in life are usually found by mistake or maybe they find us. The Old Man in the Sea is taught in high school and it is the most laughed at book by the end of senior year, they just c..."

So true. The sad proclivity of youth to mock what they don't understand is very common. How can someone who's barely begun life relate to decades of struggle on the part of the artist represented by Santiago?

East of Eden, with it's teenage characters, Cal, Aron and Abra, would have a better chance of getting through except for the book's length and trans-generational breadth and depth. It would take an entire semester for teenagers to appreciate a book of this scale. And it would take an exceptional teacher to teach it.

When I read it I was 45 years old, and I rented the miniseries (with Jane Seymour) and synched it with my reading. It blew me away. Right afterward, I read Journal of a Novel, the posthumously published journal he kept while writing the novel, analyzing he novel in conjunction with the journal. I was fascinated. It was a life-changing book.

Steinbeck's dedication to his editor, Pascal Covici, says it all: "...Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts—the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.
And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.
And still, the box is not full."


Soon afterward, I read Steinbeck's biography and traveled to Salinas and visited Steinbeck's house. I lunched there, then sought out the cottage in Pacific Grove where he wrote Of Mice and Men and toured Cannery Row. Now I've read all but In Dubious Battle and A Cup of Gold and one other of his earliest books.

East of Eden is a giant of a book written by a giant of a man.


Katie McNeil Monty J wrote: "Loganberry08 wrote: "The best things in life are usually found by mistake or maybe they find us. The Old Man in the Sea is taught in high school and it is the most laughed at book by the end of sen..."

Oh my goodness, I recently just found out about the Steinbeck center in Salinas but I didn't know his house was there! How was it? And, I think it is okay for high school students not to understand this book yet. Even though I'm quite young, I KNOW if I read this in high school I would have though it was boring. I believe some books come into your life at the right moment. I think college students would have more fun with this novel and I wish mine would teach it.


Monty J Heying Katie wrote: "Monty J wrote: "I didn't know his house was there! How was it?"

The Steinbeck House has been well preserved, a beauty of an old Victorian in the middle of town. A women's organization serves lunch daily by appointment only, two seatings. (I have their cookbook. Great recipes.)

There's book store, museum downstairs. I think you can tour the house, within limits.

Salinas has a Steinbeck Festival each August. The Steinbeck Center is quite robust with exhibits, audio programs of his books and films. One year I met the producer, Ken Wales, and one of the actors, Tim Bottoms, from the East of Eden miniseries.


Sarah I loved it, I just read it this year and I'm a sophomore. It was actually my first Steinbeck book, and I couldn't put it down. It's probably my favorite so far, but Travels with Charley was pretty good. It's hard to pick a favorite or one you don't like, If I had to chose The Pearl is my least favorite by far.
The reason I would guess they wouldn't teach it in schools is some of the sexual and religion themes. How we meet Cathy manipulating some boys into looking like they were trying to rape her. Goodness.


message 14: by Ryan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ryan Bach We had the option to read this, A Prayer for Owen Meany, or Life of Pi the summer before my AP English Language class, so the summer before sophomore year in high school. Many students went with the shorter books. I'm glad I chose East of Eden. Such a great book. I've read it twice since then. It is powerful and in my opinion, much more worthy than the other two options we had.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Katie wrote: "I was just curious why don't schools teach East of Eden? I don't know any high schools or colleges that do. I am just curious to see why people do not think it's taught, other than it's 601 pages l..."

I question the appropriateness of East of Eden for high school, considering it's discussion of sadomasochism - call me old-fashioned, but that sort of stuff would be better for college level.


message 16: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Ludtke I teach East of Eden in my high school Great Books II course (juniors and seniors). It produces great discussion and we cover all aspects of the novel, including the religious parallels. The students love to analyze it and devour the symbolism.


message 17: by BAC (new) - added it

BAC We read portions of Eden in my high school. Books over about 150ish pages didn't get read outright but instead we were given a few sample chapters and discussion of the theme.


Kristina My son read it for AP English in eleventh grade.


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