East of Eden

East of Eden

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East of Eden Chapter 44 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Aron goes off to Stanford for college, and is disappointed by the experience. He writes Abra elaborate and adoring love letters—writing her is the only thing in his life that has any meaning for him anymore. Abra confides in Lee, with whom she has grown increasingly close, that she feels the letters are written to someone “wearing her skin,” that Aron has concocted an imaginary Abra and fallen in love with this imaginary woman, leaving the real Abra behind. She worries that if he sees any imperfection in her, if she happens to smell bad one day, he will leave her. Lee feels sorry for her, and tells her it must be hard to live this way. “Humans just do smell bad sometimes.”
Aron, like Adam before him, is so incapable of seeing human fallibility that he makes Abra into an idealized version of herself. In some ways Aron, by making Abra into what he wants her to be instead of loving her for who she is, has fallen in love with himself, and not with Abra. Lee wisely acknowledges that the unrealistic standards to which Abra is being held—as a woman and as Adam’s betrothed—are harmful.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Abra, in a moment of courage, asks Lee if Mrs. Trask is still alive. Lee says yes. Just then Cal enters the kitchen. He is elated, and says he has a great present for his father that he plans to give him during Thanksgiving dinner.
Abra now knows the secret that would destroy Aron, which raises the stakes and increases the sense of danger. We then hear that Cal plans to give his father a gift—since this story is a reenactment of Cain and Abel, the reader should know that a reckoning is coming.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
The next day, Abra asks Cal to walk with her after school, and confides in him that Aron’s letter have been worrying her. She explains that Aron seems to be writing to himself, not to her. She asks Cal if it’s true that he has visited whorehouses. He tells her he has, and she asks him if he believes he is “bad.” Cal asks her why she is interested in this and Abra responds “I’m not good either.”
We see the beginnings of a connection beginning to form between Abra and Cal. Abra, weary of being idealized, seems to find relief in the reality that Cal is imperfect—for she is imperfect too—she, like all humans, is “not all good.”
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon