East of Eden

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Abra Bacon Character Analysis

Abra is the love interest of Aron Trask from a very young age. They court for a long time, but Abra begins to recognize that Aron loves an idealized version of her, and doesn’t love her for who she really is. She develops a close relationship with Lee, whom she adopts as a father figure, for she has always felt rejected by her own father. Eventually she falls for Cal, because he is both bad and good, and can understand that she is both bad and good too.

Abra Bacon Quotes in East of Eden

The East of Eden quotes below are all either spoken by Abra Bacon or refer to Abra Bacon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of East of Eden published in 1952.
Chapter 53 Quotes

“He’s crammed full to the top with every good thing and every bad thing.”

Related Characters: Lee (speaker), Caleb “Cal” Trask, Abra Bacon
Page Number: 585
Explanation and Analysis:

The love between Cal and Abra is, in a sense, Steinbeck's promise of redemption. The most relentlessly virtuous characters in the book (Adam and Aron, for example) lack empathy and understanding in a way that actually closes them off to true human love. Both men experienced strong feelings for women, but those feelings weren't really love because the men could not recognize the bad parts of the women they cared for--they loved an idealized version of a woman, rather than a real human being.

Paradoxically, the fact that Cal has sinned almost unforgivably in his treatment of Aron is what makes him able to love Abra. Cal can see Abra for everything she is, rather than reducing her complexity by projecting a single characteristic onto her. The way Steinbeck presents Cal and Abra's love suggests that the way towards virtue involves acknowledging sin and evil as parts of all of us. Without seeing ourselves and each other as complex and conflicted, we are unable to grapple with the reality of the world. And without grappling with the reality of the world, we are unable to make the best choices, and we are unable to truly love ourselves and one another.

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Abra Bacon Character Timeline in East of Eden

The timeline below shows where the character Abra Bacon appears in East of Eden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 27
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...too shy to introduce himself. Cal snickers at Aron’s awkwardness. The young girl’s name is Abra. The two boys and girl go out to play. As they leave they hear the... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
The three children test their power over one another once they get outside. Abra clearly wants control, and gains it quickly, bossing the twins around. Cal can tell immediately... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Aron offers to give Abra the rabbit they shot as a gift—when he goes inside to wrap it up, Cal... (full context)
Chapter 28
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
At dinner the boys tell their father about Abra, and ask where their mother’s grave is. Adam tells them it is in the east,... (full context)
Chapter 30
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...Cal why Cal insists on doing sneaky, tricky things. He knows Cal said something to Abra to make her throw the rabbit away—he doesn’t care what Cal said, he only wants... (full context)
Chapter 36
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Abra tells Aron that she has heard rumors that his mother is still alive, and that... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 37
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...wealthy. Aron feels as though he cannot hold his head up in school, and tells Abra that he hates his father. Abra chides him for saying such things, and Aron says... (full context)
Chapter 39
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...a better father. Cal hesitatingly opens up to Adam. He talks about Aron’s relationship with Abra; he tells his father that he loves his brother; but that he feels Aron needs... (full context)
Chapter 41
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...reveal his mother’s identity to Aron simply to shake him out of his introverted meditations. Abra thinks Aron enjoys feeling sad and ashamed—Cal doesn’t understand this. (full context)
Chapter 44
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Abra, in a moment of courage, asks Lee if Mrs. Trask is still alive. Lee says... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
The next day, Abra asks Cal to walk with her after school, and confides in him that Aron’s letter... (full context)
Chapter 47
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...his schooling and has become immensely homesick. He dreams of a world where he and Abra can run off together, and live far away from ugliness. (full context)
Chapter 49
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
At Thanksgiving time, Adam, Lee, Cal, and Abra go to the train station to greet Aron. Adam is anxious to see his son... (full context)
Chapter 52
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...months if they ought to call a doctor. Lee changes the subject and asks about Abra. Lee misses her, and tells Cal to send her to come see him again. (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Cal catches up with Abra the next day. They have not talked in a while, and Abra tells Cal she... (full context)
Chapter 53
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
After school the next day, Abra asks Cal to carry her books home. She looks into his eyes with a strange... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...that Adam’s time is drawing short, and it makes Lee feel, paradoxically, more alive. When Abra comes to the Trask house, he is thrilled to see her, and in an exuberant... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Cal walks Abra home and they agree to see the azaleas rain or shine as soon as spring... (full context)
Chapter 54
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...to improve slowly. Finally at the end of May, the azaleas bloom, and Cal and Abra jubilantly skip school to go have their picnic. During their picnic, Abra confides in Cal... (full context)
Chapter 55
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
When Cal and Abra return home, Lee is there to give them some terrible news. Aron is dead, and... (full context)
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Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Abra, Lee and Cal sit in the kitchen. Abra begs Lee to help Cal understand. Lee... (full context)