East of Eden


John Steinbeck

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East of Eden: Chapter 54 Summary & Analysis

Adam’s health is beginning to improve slowly. Finally at the end of May, the azaleas bloom, and Cal and Abra jubilantly skip school to go have their picnic. During their picnic, Abra confides in Cal that her father is a thief of sorts, and that he hides out all day pretending to be sick so he won’t be held responsible for his crimes. Abra holds Cal’s hand, and Cal puts his arm around her.
Abra’s story is much like Cal’s; one of her parents has engaged in despicable behavior, has made immoral decisions, has elected not to live a good life. Abra, like Cal, worries about this badness being replicated in her. Their love is borne out of mutual recognition that neither one of them is perfect.
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That afternoon an envelope is delivered to the door. Lee resists the urge to open it, telling himself it is some kind of advertisement. When he finally does tear it open, he tells himself not to be a coward, and to have courage. He hears Adam opening the door.
Lee knows immediately that the letter will contain news of Aron’s death. He tells himself to have courage—the choice to do good, to be strong instead of weak, is a choice that requires a great deal of courage.
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