East of Eden

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East of Eden Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One night the brothers hear a scratching on the door. When they go to look outside they see a dirty, bloodied woman lying helpless on their porch. Charles worries how it will look if two brothers are discovered with a bloodied woman in their house, but Adam insists that Charles call the doctor and carries the woman (who the reader can assume is Catherine) to bed. Adam cares for her passionately, and protects her from the invasive questioning of Charles and the doctor. Catherine knows she can handle Adam and the doctor, but she sees something in Charles’ face that she recognizes, and this makes her uneasy.
Adam, whom we have already seen struggling with seeing the bad in people, cannot see the bad in Catherine. Charles, on the other hand, is more uneasy around her. Notably we are told that Catherine sees something she “recognizes” in Charles’s face. Whatever Catherine has inside of her is something that Charles (our current figure for Cain) also has inside of him.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
As Cathy starts to get better, Charles begins to mistrust her more and more. In a private conversation when Adam is out of the room, he tells her there is something off about her; Charles believes she is the devil. Charles insinuates that he knows she has a secret, and that he will tell the authorities if she doesn’t leave. This frightens her—Charles is manipulative just like she is.
Charles recognizes something in Catherine, too—and whatever he sees, he doesn’t like (he calls her a “devil”). What does it mean to be a devil, and if Catherine is the devil, is the devil something that exists within all of us? Questions like these will inform much of the rest of the novel.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
She tells Adam she is afraid of Charles, and knows that Charles wants her to leave. Adam insists that Charles cannot make her leave; then, in a moment of shining passion, he proposes. She says she’ll think about it. Five days later, Adam tells Charles that he and Cathy are married. Charles is appalled and says he won’t live in the same house with that woman. Adam responds that they are moving to California anyway.
Adam is so blinded by his goodness, optimism, and love that he marries Cathy. Their marriage is an almost perfect fusion of too much goodness and too much badness. From its inception the Trask marriage is presented as a struggle between good and evil, with faults and failings on both sides.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
When Adam tells Cathy they are leaving, she says she doesn’t want to go, but he doesn’t listen to her. He assumes she is as enthusiastic as he is. That night, Cathy drugs him with her pain medications and he falls into a heavy sleep. While he is unconscious, she goes into Charles room. When Charles understands her intentions he remarks that his brother is a “poor bastard” but lets Cathy into his bed.
Adam doesn’t even hear Cathy: his understanding of her is completely clouded and fabricated. Catherine drugs him into a deep sleep, but in a sense Adam was already sleepwalking through life—he lives and loves as if in a dream.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
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