East of Eden


John Steinbeck

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East of Eden: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

The Salinas county sheriff investigates the shooting. At first he is suspicious of Adam, who won’t tell him anything and who seems mentally disturbed. But eventually the sheriff hears that Catherine Trask has holed up in a whorehouse in Salinas. The sheriff decides not to tell Adam, and also to warn Catherine to keep her identity and whereabouts a secret, or he’ll run her out of town.
The sheriff protects Adam from the truth; for now, the reality of his wife’s character is hidden from him. But we have the sense as readers that eventually Adam will have to contend with these unpleasant realities—will the “true” story destroy him?
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Sam comes to visit Adam, who sits alone on his porch with his arm and shoulder in a bandage. Adam tells him he will pay Sam for the wells, but that he doesn’t want them anymore. Sam tells him he must “go through the motions”—he explains that though Adam feels dead inside, he must act like he is still alive, and eventually it will be true. Sam leaves, but not before promising Adam that he’ll come back to see him.
Sam speaks to Adam as though Sam has been there himself. Remember that Sam has a lost love in Ireland. Sam was able to demonstrate resilience and courage in moving on with his life. The reader must ask if Adam is capable of the same resilience.
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