East Of Eden Essay, Research Paper
“East of Eden” by John Steinbeck
In the beginning of the book, Steinbeck describes the beauty of Salinas Valley complete with all it’s wildflowers; he also makes some racial remarks about Indians. This book portays two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, through three generations spanning from the Civil War to the first World War.
Catherine Ames is one of the main characters; s he is introduced to the reader as a monster, and as time goes on, she possesses both monster and animal like qualities. As Catherine gets older and wiser, she gets more evil and displays her monster and animal like characteristics. She knows she is powerful. She has manipulated and tricked many people in her lifetime prompting them to go to the extreme death. Catherine shows her evilness and her monster like behavior in many scenes throughout the book. Steinbeck, the narrator, illustrates Catherine as being a monster. “I believe there are monsters born in the world… It is my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life.”(pp 95-96).
Cathy used her wiles to her advantage by making people uneasy, but not so uneasy that they would run away from her. Cathy was born with an innocent look that fooled many; she had golden blond hair, hazel eyes, a thin and delicate nose, and a small chin to make her face look heart shaped. She looked angelic but that was just a disguise to mask her evil ways. According to the town in which she lived, Cathy had a scent of sweetness, but that is just what Cathy wanted the town to see and think, as Cathy planned her kill. “The fire broke out… the Ames house went up like a rocket… [E]nough remained of Mr. and Mrs. Ames to make sure there were two bodies.” Cathy had broke into the Ames’ safe to steal the family’s money, then set fire to the house to cover her deed. As the investigators examined the rubble, they noticed that the bolts stuck out and there were no keys left in the locks; they knew then,it was not an accidental fire.
Cathy’s body was never found, but the town assumed that she died. “If it had not been for Cathy’s murder, the fire and [the] robbery might have been a coincidence.” mused Steinbeck, retiterating that Cathy is a monster.(p. 242) Steinbeck reassures the reader that Cathy is a monster, with the evidence before and after the statement, Cathy later changes her name to Kate, and runs a whorehouse. During the time she runs the brothel, she takes pictures of all the important male individuals in town who frequent her establishment, sending the incriminating evidence to their spouses and families. Kate(Cathy) intends plans to send the pictures whether these men caused trouble or not. As Kate’s(Cathy’s) character materializes, Steinbeck changes his description of her from a monster to that of an animal. “Her head jerked up and her sharp teeth fastened on his hand across the back and up into the palm near the little finger… her jaw was set and her head twisted and turned, mangling his hand the way a terrier worries a sack.” (Pg. 253), Cathy’s sharp teeth sunk into a man’s flesh like a dog’s teeth, and as she tore away the skin and twisted and turned her head to resemble a dog, she asked, “[D]o you think I want to be human? Look at those pictures! I’d rather be an animal than a human,” with this statement, Kate(Cathy) admits she would rather be an animal than a human. The physical features of Kate(Cathy) are that of a human, but her mental state resembles an animal. She knows how to manipulate anybody without trying. “Uncontrolled hatred shone in Kate’s eyes. She screamed, a long and shrill animal screech.” (Pg. 427) For unknown reasons, Kate(Cathy) has animal characteristics. You never know what Kate(Cathy) is going to do next, or what she is thinking; she resembles a monster and an animal, more so than a human.