East of Eden

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East of Eden Chapter 36 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Salinas, Cal and Aron begin their 7th grade education at their new school Cal is respected by everyone—teachers and classmates can see he is smart—but he is not well liked. Aron on the other hand is loved by everyone. And Aron sets to work immediately courting his beloved Abra Bacon. She avoids him for a while, but then finally allows him to walk with her one day after school. They go to sit in the shade and secrecy under a willow tree, and make their plans to be married. bra suggests they play house under the willow tree to practice. Aron asks Abra if she will pretend to be his mother. She agrees, and holds his head against her and strokes his hair, calling him her “little baby.” Aron unexpectedly breaks down sobbing. Abra continues to quietly comfort him.
We can already see that Abra and Aron’s romance is fraught with dysfunction. Aron is using Abra to fill a void left by his missing mother. They are both too young to realize what is happening, but their young love showcases how vulnerable loneliness can make us. Though Aron is loved by everyone in school, he still feels a longing for connection.
Themes
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Abra tells Aron that she has heard rumors that his mother is still alive, and that she has just run away. She tells him it is a secret, and that he must not tell anyone that she knows this information. Aron agrees, and she kisses him and tells him she loves him, then runs home.
Abra represents a kind of coming of age for Aron—she has the capacity to teach him about various vaguely dangerous realities: about sex, love and passion, but also about his mother and her whereabouts.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Aron is disturbed: either his mother is dead, or his father and Lee or liars, which makes them dead in a different kind of way. He cannot stomach the thought of that, and concludes that Abra simply heard some incorrect information. He pushes the thoughts from his mind. That night, as Adam reads in his chair, Aron puts his hand on his father’s shoulder gently, and sweetly tells him goodnight before he goes to bed.
Aron, like Adam, demonstrates a remarkable talent for refusing to see negativity, deceit, or evil in the world around him. As Adam once did, he uses stories to protect himself from the truth—rather than using stories to understand the truth. Like Adam, he is all good without the bad.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon