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Book Review: East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

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I recently finished what I now consider to be my favorite book, East of Eden. Written in a style that is captivating from the very beginning, this book was never difficult to pick up. Every one of its 778 pages is worth reading, and studying. While I read the book I used a blank piece of paper as a bookmark, and when I felt inspired by a passage I would copy it onto my bookmark. I found that this book inspired me to act differently in my relationship with my family, friends, and myself. The story of Cal Trask almost mirrors that of Cain from the Bible. But in this version there is extra insight into his thoughts, actions, and reasoning. One character named Lee acted as an inspiring teacher to Cal. He taught Cal why he did what he did in a time when he thought he was bound to follow an evil path. He taught Cal how some of what he did was a form of self punishment to make people feel sorry for him, and how to change who he was he needed to find deeper reasons beyond what others thought of him.  Through this book Cal learns and teaches us through his example how we can overcome the path that seems to be set for us, and be our own person through hard work and true desire.

Another of the concepts taught in this novel is that of growing up. It follows several characters through their growing up process. From the story of Adam Trask we learn what happens when a person never really grows up before being thrust into the real world. Never learning how to see people for who they really are Adam shows us the danger of judging based on appearance or imagination. One of the quotes I wrote on my bookmark was about growing up. It reads “When you’re a child you’re the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people?They’re only ghosts furnished for you to talk to. But when you grow up you take your place and you’re your own size and shape. Things go out of to others and come in from other people. It’s worse, but it’s much better too.” This quote very well sums up what I have already said about growing up. We become parts of a whole, and we can’t think of others as ‘ghosts furnished for us to talk to’ anymore.

I fully encourage anyone who has not read it to do so, and anyone who has read it, but didn’t learn from it to read it again, and try to find more meaning. Thank you for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it and that it will make some kind of difference to you.

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“All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden