East of Eden


John Steinbeck

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East of Eden: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Cathy brings “glory” into the life of Adam Trask. He imagines her as a perfect woman; he doesn’t see her hatred and pain, he sees only a woman who believes in all the same things he believes in. He moves to California and searches patiently for just the right piece of land. One day he finds Cathy collapsed on the floor in a puddle of blood. He calls the doctor, who can tell immediately that Catherine has attempted an abortion. She lies to him about her motives, and makes him feel sorry for her. He agrees not to tell Adam that she has tried to abort the baby, but tells her the baby has survived, and warns her that if she tries anything again he will call the sheriff.
Adam continues to be blind to Catherine’s anger and hatred for him. Catherine’s failed abortion is in many ways a figure for the failure of evil—Catherine, in spite of herself, will participate in an act of creation, and creation triumphs over destruction. Her children, especially Cal, will overcome a great deal over the course of their lives, and perhaps it is appropriate to think of this as their first triumph.
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Adam, delighted to hear that Catherine is pregnant, becomes interested in a large piece of property for sale along the river. He is told to see Sam Hamilton, who will knows if a well can be brought up on the property. Adam agrees, and goes to Sam’s house. Sam has a savant-like knowledge of soil and how it works, and tells Adam the property is a fine one, and likely sitting on top of water. Just before Adam leaves, he remarks that Sam has made the Salinas valley sound like a wonderful place to settle. Samuel’s face grows dark, and he warns that “there is a blackness in this valley.” Sam can’t put his finger on it, but he feels a violence haunts this land. Adam excuses himself; Sam apologized for his rambling. The next day Adam buys the property.
Ironically, though Sam has no water of his own, he knows more about water than anyone in the Salinas Valley. Though Adam is wealthy, he depends on Sam for his acute abilities of perception and his knowledge. Water isn’t the only thing Sam is knowledgeable about: he feels a “darkness” in the Salinas Valley that Adam is blind to—where Adam believes that Sam has made the Salinas valley sound like a “wonderful place to settle” Sam seems to know that evil has found its way into this community.
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