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Readalong: East of Eden > East of Eden Week 6: Chapters 45-end

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Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 877 comments Mod
The week of June 11, if you are on schedule, you should be finishing the book. Many of you were so into it you finished early, so you can discuss the ending here. HERE THERE BE SPOILERS, let's assume.


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Not once did this book feel as long and epic to me as it actually was. That being said, I do wish there had been a bit more about the Hamiltons to fill in some of the larger gaps. But, overall, I was deeply impressed by Steinbeck's deft & lovely treatment of such a sweeping story. I'm ready now to read everything he wrote!

I suppose this will come up in the final discussion, but I'm wondering how everyone felt about the character evolution of Lee. It was his wisdom that introduced the concept that carried through and tied up the story (timshel), so his significance to the story is undeniable. But did his life story do justice to his importance in the end?


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 877 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "Not once did this book feel as long and epic to me as it actually was. That being said, I do wish there had been a bit more about the Hamiltons to fill in some of the larger gaps."
I would start to get confused which families the tiny characters mentioned only once or twice belonged to. What do you think the purpose the Hamiltons serve? Do they help move the story forward? Are they simply John Steinbeck's connection? Do the Hamiltons play a similar role to Lee?

Sara wrote: "I'm wondering how everyone felt about the character evolution of Lee. It was his wisdom that introduced the concept that carried through and tied up the story (timshel), so his significance to the story is undeniable. But did his life story do justice to his importance in the end? "
I actually kept seeing him as the stay at home mom role. He thought he might want a flashier life and instead of that being a fantasy he even went and tried it (although we don't know a lot about that). Ultimately he came back home, discovering it was his home too. They needed him. He needed to be needed. I guess this is how I interpreted it. But I do wonder what happened in SF....


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Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 165 comments Jenny wrote: "I would start to get confused which families the tiny characters mentioned only once or twice belonged to. What do you think the purpose the Hamiltons serve? Do they help move the story forward? Are they simply John Steinbeck's connection? Do the Hamiltons play a similar role to Lee?"

That's an interesting question about the Hamiltons. They did help move the story forward in some places and Samuel was the voice of reason when Adam was struggling as a father. After I finished the book I read about John's life and it seemed more like he included them as his connection. He wrote about his mother Olive, their house, the city, etc., and even added himself in a scene.

I enjoyed the development of Lee as the book went on. I like the stay at home mom comparison. He played the key role in the climactic final scene.

Has anyone watched the 1955 movie with James Dean as Cal? I though it was rather good except that Lee's character is not in the movie! What?!


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 877 comments Mod
Jeff wrote: " Jenny wrote: "I would start to get confused which families the tiny characters mentioned only once or twice belonged to. What do you think the purpose the Hamiltons serve? Do they help move the st..."
Not in the movie??!? I haven't seen it yet.


message 6: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮  | 226 comments I wondered about the Hamiltons also. I thought they would be more important to the story. They did propel the story forward, but perhaps they are there as a contrast to the Trasks: a foil. It makes for an engaging narrative perspective also. Someone removed from the Trasks directly which could then be an unreliable narrator.


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Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 165 comments Elizabeth☮ wrote: "I wondered about the Hamiltons also. I thought they would be more important to the story. ." I did, too. When I first started reading, I thought the novel would be split more evenly between the Hamiltons and the Trasks. Certainly, there were some interesting Hamiltons who would've been worth reading more about.

The 1955 movie was roughly based on the second half of the book, which makes it all the more odd that Lee was left out entirely. There is also a 6.5 hour East of Eden miniseries which was made in 1981. I might have to check that out.


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