East of Eden

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East of Eden Chapter 55 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Cal and Abra return home, Lee is there to give them some terrible news. Aron is dead, and Adam has had a stroke. He cannot move or speak, and he may live for as long as a year or as short as a day. That night Cal goes to Abra’s house and demands loudly to see her. Abra’s mother refuses, but Abra has heard Cal’s voice and sneaks out the back. Cal passionately, desperately confides in her. He tells her his mother is a whore and her blood is in his veins. She tells him her father is a thief and he is in her blood too. He tells her he killed his brother, and Abra insists that they return to Cal’s house.
Cal finally has to reckon with what he did to his brother—and by extension, to his father, whose stroke, we are led to believe, was hastened by the news of Aron’s death. He wisely confides in his friends and family—he does not isolate himself. He finds comfort not only in the company of others like Abra, but in the reality that he is not the only person who has succumbed to evil impulses—he is not alone in his wrongdoing, and he can recover from it.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Abra, Lee and Cal sit in the kitchen. Abra begs Lee to help Cal understand. Lee takes Cal upstairs to his father’s room. Lee loudly explains to Adam that his brain is injured, but he must strive to listen. He commands Adam to look at Caleb. Lee shouts that Caleb acted out of anger, and that his anger killed Aron. He tells Adam he must not crush Caleb with rejection. He begs Adam to give Caleb his blessing, over and over, shouting, “give him your blessing!” Adam tightens up in concentration tries to speak, and fails. Lee coaxes him gently, softly asks him to try again. Adam tries and fails, then tries a third time, and utters the word “timshel” before closing his eyes and going to sleep.
Here, finally, is where the story of Cain and Abel ends—not with the banishment of Cain, but with forgiveness of him. Adam blesses his son by telling him that he still has a choice; he still has greatness in him; redemption is still an option, and will remain an option to Cal for as long as he is alive. But it is important to note that this blessing is obtained with the indispensible help of Lee and Abra—if this ending is a triumph, it is a triumph of a community, a family. Nobody can succeed alone.
Themes
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon