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Readalong: East of Eden > East of Eden Week 3: chapters 18-23/24

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Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 907 comments Mod
Page 300 is smack dab between chapters 23 and 24. I'd personally err on the side of a little extra but that's me! Hey, I'm glad you're here to read and discuss this book.


message 2: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 168 comments I like how Lee became a major character in this section. He dropped the pidgin English and we learned that he was a very caring and intelligent person.

I thought Cathy / Katy was finally going to get hers when the sheriff showed up at Faye's place but, surprise, she emerged with only advice about how to lay low from the sheriff who just seemed to want peace in his jurisdiction.

I loved this quote from Adam regarding his twins: "that one-that one looks like my brother. I just saw it. I wonder if the other one looks like me." OH, OH!


message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Whoa, little too much religion in this section, I started having some catholic school flashbacks :)

Jeff wrote: "I like how Lee became a major character in this section. He dropped the pidgin English and we learned that he was a very caring and intelligent person. ..."

I like the Lee character too and his development though the novel, but I have to wonder if he's filling the role of "magical asian". I did like how the elders reacted to Lee's question to them and how they were given a new passion for life at 90 + years of age.

Kate/Cathy that crazy gal. Not sure how I feel about the champagne as kryptionite use. So she's a real person in Steinbeck's family history? Where does the reality and fiction meet, and I wonder how much of what is written is true (given that Steinbeck would have been a child when most of this happened) and how much is exaggerated to make her seem as evil as possible. Even going to/considering the level of sexual deviancy.

Just some other thoughts/questions on this section

When first published was it known that this was the story of Steinbeck's family? or was that a surprise when the names were listed ?
I'm curious about the reaction at the 1952 publishing of relating churches and whorehouses ?


message 4: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 168 comments Mary wrote: "Whoa, little too much religion in this section, I started having some catholic school flashbacks :) This fellow Catholic school survivor agrees with your comment.

Steinbeck talks a little about his family in Travels with Charley. I would be interested to read a biography and find out which characters are based on actual acquaintances and family members.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 907 comments Mod
Mary wrote: "
I'm curious about the reaction at the 1952 publishing of relating churches and whorehouses ?..."


Oh me too. That was the first part I got to that made me run back to discuss. I can practically see the grin on his face as he wrote those words. Interesting comments too about the churches building more than what they could afford.

I also thought the sheriff's response to Kate/Cathy was strange. I mean from a legal standpoint and especially in that era, she abandoned her children! I hope that becomes more clear as we go.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 907 comments Mod
"Your mother does not believe there are many ills incurable by good strong soup. She puts your brave attack on the structure of our civilization down to a stomach ache. It worries her. Her faith is a mountain, and you, my son, haven't even got a shovel yet."
- chapter 22-1, Samuel to his son Joe


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 907 comments Mod
Woah, Steinbeck has a character with gender dysphoria... it gets mentioned but then everyone moves on and so far Mary hasn't been mentioned again. Interesting!

I also loved the first page of chapter 24, about how different people in a marriage handle grief different ways, how that balances the other.


message 8: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Dottie | 2 comments Mary wrote: "Whoa, little too much religion in this section, I started having some catholic school flashbacks :)

Jeff wrote: "I like how Lee became a major character in this section. He dropped the pidgin Engl..."


I find your idea of Lee filling the role of a "magical asian" very interesting. I went back to reread a few part with that in mind, I'm not sure I know whether he is or not but I think it is a very interesting point to bring up!

Also just as a side note, I really dislike the Kate/Cathy character but I find that she is a driving a lot of the plot for me. I want to keep reading to see what she does next.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 907 comments Mod
Ellie wrote: "Mary wrote: "Whoa, little too much religion in this section, I started having some catholic school flashbacks :)

Jeff wrote: "I like how Lee became a major character in this section. He dropped th..."


I think at first perhaps the magical Asian... but later on it seems self-aware, and Lee becomes more nuanced than that. Which honestly, is surprising to me with Steinbeck. I always think of him as more of a product of his time but in East of Eden I'm surprised over and over by his power of observation and nuance in writing his characters.


message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Ellie wrote: "Mary wrote: "Whoa, little too much religion in this section, I started having some catholic school flashbacks :)

Jeff wrote: "I like how Lee became a major character in this section...."


Thinking on it some more, given that Steinbeck lived in an area where he would have known more Asians than the average American, perhaps it's his way of educating or broadening the opinions of Asians at the time. The internment camps were 1942-46 and with the book published in 52 if Steinbeck was sympathetic to the Asian community or had Asians friends a book would be a great vehicle to educate without lecturing.

For the (average 1952 citizen) expecting the 'me talky' stuff to yes Lee does actually read and reads quite a bit to showing with the elders the breath and depth of a culture with long philosophical history.


message 11: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 168 comments Chapters 23 and 24 were interesting, with the descriptions of the "strange, high-strung" Hamiltons, and later Samuel's time with Adam and Lee. The part where Samuel gives Adam his "medicine" was a surprise to me. How about that for not pulling any punches? Samuel knew how to push Adam's buttons (or when to punch him) in order to snap him out of his apathetic states. The parting of Samuel and Lee in Chapter 24 was moving I thought.


message 12: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮  | 234 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Woah, Steinbeck has a character with gender dysphoria... it gets mentioned but then everyone moves on and so far Mary hasn't been mentioned again. Interesting!

I also loved the first page of chapt..."


I thought that was interesting as well. I wasn't quite sure of the point of it, but I was eager to go down that road with Steinbeck. And then, nothing.


message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy | 22 comments Do you believe that Samuel was a good friend to Adam? I'm not so sure if I would want a 'friend' like Samuel.


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