East of Eden


John Steinbeck

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East of Eden: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

There are three whorehouses in Salinas—one of which is run by a motherly-type woman named Faye. Her house becomes a refuge for adolescent boys who are eager to lose some of their young virtue. Faye is puzzled by a new girl—who calls herself Kate—who is not like any woman Faye had come across before. Kate is too pretty to need to prostitute herself, and yet she has clearly worked in a whorehouse before and is excellent at her work, attracting many new customers. What’s more she helps selflessly around the house, hanging new curtains and comforting the other girls when they’re feeling dejected. Faye begins to think of Kate as a daughter, and soon begins to wish that her “daughter” were not a whore.
“Kate,” as Catherine is now calling herself, once again preys on the loneliness of those around her. In many ways a brothel is the perfect workplace for her. It is a place where lonely men betray themselves, their morals, their wives; it is a refuge for the darker and more despicable human vices. Kate manipulates Faye into thinking of her as a daughter—she wields the compassion and love of others as a weapon.
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Related Quotes
After Kate has been at the house for about a year, Faye asks her what the sheriff came to see her about shortly after she first arrived. Kate brushes the question off, but thinks back to that conversation in her head: she almost remembers it fondly. The Sheriff had told her to lay low; to dye her hair black; to tell no one of her identity. He warned her he would press charges as soon as she let her story get out. He had seen her immediately for what she was, and he dealt with her smartly and efficiently.
The sheriff recognizes Kate immediately for what she really is. We can imagine some of his perceptive power comes from his training: as the sheriff, he deals with criminals more than the average man. He is keenly aware of the kind of evil people are capable of, and has no trouble recognizing this evil in Kate.
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