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Old 23rd Feb 2011, 12:31   #31
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

I think the 'soup carrier' thing refers to a person who takes food or treats to someone (particularly if the recipient is ill) with the ulterior motive of currying favour and gaining an undue advantage over the recipient at a later stage.

I suppose it has an additional layer of meaning with Cathy / Kate since the food she took to Faye was poisoned.
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Old 25th Feb 2011, 8:41   #32
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

I re-read the short chapter 34 yesterday evening, and remembered how it felt like an interjection or interlude. It made me feel that Steinbeck wrote this book less as an artistic creation and more as a work of moral philosophy, as an expression of his thoughts on the way good and bad manifest themselves within people, a very basic, essential exploration of human nature. Which I suppose is why he uses the example of the very first family conflict within the Bible, that of Cain and Abel.

The only one of the three men he refers to, whom I thought I might recognise was the one who was

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as smart as Satan, who, lacking some perception of human dignity and knowing all too well every aspect of human weakness and wickedness, used his special knowledge to warp men, to buy men, to bribe and threaten and seduce until he found himself in a position of great power.
who I thought might be Hitler. But I don't think it necessarily matters who the three men are. I find the first the most interesting, as he seems to be an example of someone who repented of the way he made his immense wealth and tried to undo bad things he had done by doing good deeds, and yet Steinbeck points out that this person did not apparently win back any good opinion or respect.
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Old 25th Feb 2011, 11:02   #33
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

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Originally Posted by ono no komachi View Post
I re-read the short chapter 34 yesterday evening, and remembered how it felt like an interjection or interlude. It made me feel that Steinbeck wrote this book less as an artistic creation and more as a work of moral philosophy, as an expression of his thoughts on the way good and bad manifest themselves within people, a very basic, essential exploration of human nature.
It's way too basic, though... do you think that's because he only had a basic understanding, or that he thought that's all his readers would have?

I found the interjections like this quite odd. They didn't help the story along, and I don't appreciate being told what the author thinks in this way. I'm afraid I'm not a Steinbeck fan based on this book... I will try others, but not in a hurry.
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Old 25th Feb 2011, 11:32   #34
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

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It's way too basic, though... do you think that's because he only had a basic understanding, or that he thought that's all his readers would have?
I didn't see it as either of those. I saw it as Steinbeck wanting to reduce moral arguments to their very essence, i.e. good vs. evil. It didn't particularly make me think any less of him as an author.

I also think the wealth thing is interesting. Sam Hamilton, who cannot make his land pay, is portrayed as an essentially good man, and while Adam Trask is also supposedly good (interesting that Seinbeck seems to find no fault with Adam's inability to perceive any problems with his relationship with Cathy, which foreshadows Aron's putting Abra on a pedestal) his purchase of good profitable farmland is only possible because of his father's bequest to him, which Steinbeck implies was obtained dishonestly.

I don't think Steinbeck goes so far as to say that the acquisition of wealth is immoral in and of itself, but for the characters in the novel who have wealth, the acquisition of that wealth seems to have at some point some dishonest or immoral association with it.
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Old 25th Feb 2011, 15:34   #35
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

Maybe I read this too literally, but the three men to me are the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Everyone here is on the side of good-even Cathy-because of Timshel- Thou Mayest. Steinbeck is nothing, if not a political writer. And introducing the notion of free will brings up the notion of democracy. One can choose one's path. Real evil is autocracy, with no choice being offered at all.
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Old 26th Feb 2011, 12:44   #36
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

I'm getting more intrigued by who the three men might be. I'm pretty sure he's referring to real people but Hitler doesn't fully fit the second (the nation would not praise him). Here's the text about the three men:
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I remember clearly the deaths of three men. One was the richest man of the century, who, having clawed his way to wealth through the souls and bodies of men, spent many years trying to buy back the love he had forfeited and by that process performed great service to the world and, perhaps, had much more than balanced the evils of his rise. I was on a ship when he died. The news was posted on the bulletin board, and nearly everyone received the news with pleasure. Several said 'Thank God that son of a bitch is dead.'

Then there was a man, smart as Satan, who, lacking some perception of human dignity and knowing all too well every aspect of human weakness and wickedness, used his special knowledge to warp men, to buy men, to bribe and threaten and seduce until he found himself in a position of great power. He clothed his motives in the names of virtue, and I wondered if he ever knew that no gift will ever buy back a man's love when you have removed his self-love. A bribed man can only hate his briber. When this man died, the nation rang with praise, and just beneath, with gladness that he was dead.

There was a third man, who perhaps made many errors in performance, but whose effective life was devoted to making men brave and dignified and good in a time when they were poor and frightened and when there were ugly forces loose in the world to ultilize their fears. This man was hated by the few. When he did, the people burst into tears in the streets and their minds wailed, 'What can we do now? How can we go on without him?'
I think the first is John D Rockefeller, who died in 1937 (if we take this section literally, as words from John Steinbeck about his memories, he'd be 35 on that boat).

I think the third is Franklin D Roosevelt, who died in 1945.

The second one is still a mystery.
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Old 8th Mar 2011, 7:30   #37
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

I finished it yesterday. It's an engrossing story, which really carries the reader - at least this reader. I enjoyed it a lot. I feel I should stress it – because my further posts may be more critical, leaving perhaps the impression that I didn't like the book.

Ok, my biggest objections (in short): I'm not quite convinced by the psychology and I find the composition of the book a little bit shaky. I'll try and write more later but now I'd like to read earlier posts in this thread.

For the record, I mean to give it but I don't feel quite sure yet.
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Old 8th Mar 2011, 12:37   #38
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Default Re: Book 59: EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

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The second one is still a mystery.
Hearst?

m., you're so right about being carried along on the story. I remember that, and at the time I thought it a favorite. This time couldn't make it past p48 because it seemed a bit heavy handed. Wish I'd persevered.
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