East of Eden


John Steinbeck

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East of Eden: Chapter 53 Summary & Analysis

After school the next day, Abra asks Cal to carry her books home. She looks into his eyes with a strange kind of intensity, until he wants to drop his gaze away from her.
It becomes more explicitly clear that Abra and Cal are meant to be together—Abra knows that Cal—being fully human himself—can see and accept her as fully human.
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Adam takes to sleeping in short bursts throughout the day and night. Lee sees 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 moment of abandon blurts out that he wishes Abra were his daughter. She tells him she feels the same way. Lee has to leave the room to collect himself. When he returns he says there is something different about Abra—she seems more grown up to him. Lee then asks Abra if she likes Cal. She tells him she does, and Lee responds by observing that Cal is “crammed full with every good thing and every bad thing.” Abra tells Lee that Cal has invited her to go picnicking with him when the azaleas bloom. Lee wonders if she will go, and Abra resists the urge to smile and says that she is going.
Adam and Lee respond to the passage of time differently—Adam is slowly weakened by it, but Lee is invigorated it—it seems to remind him that he is alive. He tells Abra how he feels about her; he has never had children of his own and his emotional adoption of Abra shows that he is able to make a family for himself. He actively fills his life with good memories, as Sam once advised Adam to do. He responds to loneliness with creativity. He then sums up why Abra and Cal can be together: because Cal is full of good and bad and therefore full of humanity, full of life.
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Related Quotes
Cal walks Abra home and they agree to see the azaleas rain or shine as soon as spring arrives. Cal thinks romantic thoughts on the way home, and even considers putting flowers on his mother’s grave. He tells himself he is beginning to think like Aron.
This moment where Cal sees himself “beginning to think like Aron” is Cal recognizing and nurturing the good in himself. Though he has evil in him that Aron never had, he can still be “like” Aron in his goodness.
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