East of Eden

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Tom Hamilton Character Analysis

Tom is the youngest son of Sam and Liza Hamilton. He is thoughtful and introverted, and deeply dependent on his father’s guidance and wisdom. When Sam dies, Tom is left in charge of the ranch, and loneliness disturbs his mind and nearly drives him crazy. Tom eventually kills himself after he accidentally poisons his sister Dessie with incorrect medicine for a stomachache.
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Tom Hamilton Character Timeline in East of Eden

The timeline below shows where the character Tom Hamilton appears in East of Eden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...George is born, then Will, who even as a child showed great talent for business. Tom is the third son; curious and contemplative like his father. Sam buys more land and... (full context)
Chapter 16
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...associating with a rich man, for richness begets idleness. She relents eventually, and Sam brings Tom and Joe with him when he returns to Adam’s property two days later. (full context)
Chapter 23
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...of death taking any part of his flesh. The other children are thriving, except for Tom, who keeps returning to the ranch. He and his father have deep and philosophical discussions... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
...Mary wanted desperately to be a boy. She was always athletic, and once when Uncle Tom came to visit, they begged him to tell them how to make Mary into a... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
The difference between Sam and Tom is that Sam is able to find his way out of complex trains of thought... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...old. They can hardly stand to think of a world without Sam in it, and Tom is the most upset of all. They agree that Sam’s life on the ranch is... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
...invitation from Olive a week later he knows immediately what is going on. He calls Tom in, and Tom admits the plan to him. Sam is soberly good humored about it—he... (full context)
Chapter 25
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
The following March, Tom receives a telegram at the ranch and knows what it will say before he opens... (full context)
Chapter 31
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...who is thinking of selling her house and moving to the ranch to be with Tom. Adam agrees. (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...to Will that Dessie may be selling her house to him and moving in with Tom—At this news Will becomes angry and says he doesn’t trust Tom. He believes Tom has... (full context)
Chapter 32
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...and he can’t stand the thought of her being alone with the strange and brooding Tom. Dessie laughs and comforts him. “Let me decide” she tells him softly. “I’ve lost something.... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
When Dessie moves back to the ranch, Tom meets her at the train station; he is clearly elated to see her and anxious... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Dessie has been bothered by stomach pains for quite some time, but hides them from Tom. He has cleaned the house immaculately for her, and the two of them begin to... (full context)
Chapter 33
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Tom grows happier and happier, and Dessie is glad to see him improving, but becomes even... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
The next day Tom goes to see Will about his plan to raise money for a great trip, and... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
A week after Dessie’s funeral, Tom returns to the ranch. His sins announce themselves in his head over and over: Vanity... (full context)