East of Eden


John Steinbeck

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East of Eden: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Catherine goes to a local whorehouse run by a man named Mr. Edwards. She sells him a sad story about a troubled past, and he falls in love with her almost instantly. He buys her a house, lavishes her with gifts, and she keeps him miserable by withholding affection and deliberately making him jealous. One night, however, he demands that she have a drink with him. Alcohol breaks down her defenses, and her cruelty shines through. She insults him horribly, tells him she’s never cared for him, and laughs that he is in fact utterly repulsive to her. Mr. Edwards comes back the next day and demands that she go on a drive with him. He takes her to a secret place in the country, pulls over, and beats her viciously with the intention of killing her. He doesn’t know, when he leaves her bloodied on the ground, that Catherine is still alive.
We learn Catherine’s biggest weakness-when she drinks alcohol, her caution disappears, and she reveals her true nature to those around her. We also learn that her tactics have consequences—manipulating Mr. Edwards into loving her proves beneficial in various ways. But this book repeatedly affirms that love is often turbulent and dangerous; Mr. Edward’s love for Catherine is no exception. He, like Cal, like Cain, is willing to kill for love. Love can bring out generosity and kindness, but also possessiveness and jealousy.
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