East of Eden

East of Eden

Adam is the son of Cyrus Trask and the brother of Charles Trask. Adam was forced into the army by his father, whom he respected but did not love. After getting out of the army, he meets and marries Catherine and with her conceives twin sons (Cal and Aron) after he moves to the Salinas Valley in California. He is a peaceful man who hates violence, and when he meets Catherine, he falls for her and cannot see that she is evil. He makes her into an ideal, and is thrown into a deep depression when she leaves him (and shoots him in the shoulder) just after she gives birth to the twins. His character’s redemption is one of the central story arcs in the novel. He learns to take refuge in the love of his sons, and absorbs the wisdom of men like Sam Hamilton and Lee. At the end of the novel, his act of forgiveness (he forgives his son Cal for driving his other son Aron into the army, where he dies) evidences the redemption and resilience of his spirit.

Adam Trask Quotes in East of Eden

The East of Eden quotes below are all either spoken by Adam Trask or refer to Adam Trask. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of East of Eden published in 1952.
Chapter 3 Quotes

“You’re trying to take him away! I don’t know how you’re going about it. What do you think you’re doing?”

Related Characters: Charles Trask (speaker), Adam Trask, Cyrus Trask
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“The proofs that God does not exist are very strong, but in lots of people they are not as strong as the feeling that He does.”

Related Characters: Adam Trask (speaker), Charles Trask, Cyrus Trask
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

Then a breeze would move her bright hair, or she would raise her eyes, and Adam would swell out in his stomach with a pressure of ecstasy that was close kin to grief.

Related Characters: John Steinbeck (speaker), Adam Trask, Catherine Trask (Kate)
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

It seemed to Samuel that Adam might be pleasuring himself with sadness.

Related Characters: John Steinbeck (speaker), Adam Trask, Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

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“We are descended from this. This is our father. Some of our guilt is absorbed in our ancestry. What chance did we have? We are the children of our father. It means we aren’t the first.”

Related Characters: Adam Trask (speaker), Lee, Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 269
Explanation and Analysis:

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“A great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last.”

Related Characters: Lee (speaker), Adam Trask, Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man…why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”

Related Characters: Lee (speaker), Adam Trask, Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes

“That’s what I hate, the liars, and they’re all liars…I love to rub their noses in their own nastiness.”

Related Characters: Catherine Trask (Kate) (speaker), Adam Trask
Page Number: 322
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 49 Quotes

“I send boys out…I sign my name and they go out. And some will die and some will lie helpless without arms and legs. Not one will come back untorn. Son, do you think I could take a profit on that?...I don’t want the money, Cal. And the lettuce—I don’t think I did that for a profit.”

Related Characters: Adam Trask (speaker), Caleb “Cal” Trask
Page Number: 543
Explanation and Analysis:

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Adam Trask Character Timeline in East of Eden

The timeline below shows where the character Adam Trask appears in East of Eden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Identity Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...and they bought good land, and were able to plant wheat and build beautiful houses. Adam Trask is one of these men. (full context)
Chapter 3
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Adam Trask was born in a rural area in Connecticut. His mother, a godly woman who... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...and all-powerful. But eventually, for every child, this illusion falls apart, and this happens to Adam quite early on. One day he simply realizes that his father is not a great... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Adam is a peaceful and obedient child, but his half brother Charles is assertive like his... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
One day Adam, who is typically unsuccessful in athletic competitions, repeatedly beats Charles at a game called “peewee”... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
After supper that night Adam says he is going on a walk and Charles joins him. Charles demands to know... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
When Adam returns home, beaten, Alice and Cyrus are shocked. Cyrus demands that Adam explain why Charles... (full context)
Chapter 4
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...in town for a few weeks, and when he returns his father has calmed down. Adam is enlisted in the army as a private; the narrator remarks that it is strange... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Charles writes Adam long, sentimental letters while he is away. It is as though Charles is able to... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...has moved to DC for work, and so Charles is alone on the farm without Adam, who is away in the army. He longs for his brother’s return, and fills up... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
When Adam is discharged, he doesn’t know how to cope with his new freedom. He has become... (full context)
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Adam receives an order to appear in DC. Cyrus is responsible for this, and meets Adam... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Charles has looked forward to Adam’s return for five years. He readies the farm in every way possible. He hires a... (full context)
Chapter 7
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Adam’s next five years fly by, for they are uneventful and unmemorable. He writes to tell... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...this—where did his father get this money? Soon after this he gets a telegram from Adam, asking for 100 dollars, and saying he is on his way home. (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Adam finally arrives home, and his reunion with his brother is somewhat awkward. Charles is clearly... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Charles asks Adam if there are any women in his life. Adam says he stayed with a Native... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...have inherited from their father was stolen or otherwise ill-gotten. He demands to know why Adam does not look upset, and asks if Adam even loved Cyrus. Adam says he did... (full context)
Chapter 10
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Charles and Adam bicker constantly, and Adam periodically leaves only to come crawling back after a few months.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...will look if two brothers are discovered with a bloodied woman in their house, but Adam insists that Charles call the doctor and carries the woman (who the reader can assume... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...get better, Charles begins to mistrust her more and more. In a private conversation when Adam is out of the room, he tells her there is something off about her; Charles... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
She tells Adam she is afraid of Charles, and knows that Charles wants her to leave. Adam insists... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
When Adam tells Cathy they are leaving, she says she doesn’t want to go, but he doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 13
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Cathy brings “glory” into the life of Adam Trask. He imagines her as a perfect woman; he doesn’t see her hatred and pain,... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Adam, delighted to hear that Catherine is pregnant, becomes interested in a large piece of property... (full context)
Chapter 15
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Adam begins turning his grand plans into a reality. He starts building up a grand house.... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
One day Adam sends Lee to the Hamilton house to fetch Sam. Lee obliges and as he and... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Sam and Adam wander around the property looking for water. Sam carries a stick with him that, like... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Adam invites Sam to dinner. Sam agrees, but finds dinner to be excruciatingly awkward. He sees... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Adam and Cathy sit under a tree as the sun sets. Adam describes to her all... (full context)
Chapter 16
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...like that. He feels guilty thinking such evil things about her, and vows to help Adam as much as he can with the land. (full context)
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
The next day at breakfast Sam tells Liza about Adam Trask hiring him to dig three wells, as well as build some windmills. She is... (full context)
Chapter 17
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...running outside and insists that Sam come inside to help—Cathy has gone into labor and Adam is losing his mind with excitement, fear, and worry. Sam tells Lee to calm down,... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...baby is ready to be delivered. It is a boy—Sam swaddles the baby and tells Adam, who looks queasy. Sam asks for Lee, who comes in to help him clean up.... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...hours later and stays for a week, cleaning the house, washing the children and helping Adam adjust. When she returns, Sam asks her how it went. Liza remarks that, though she... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Cathy rests for a week, until one day Adam enters her room to find her holding a suitcase and wearing traveling clothes. She announces... (full context)
Chapter 18
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Sam comes to visit Adam, who sits alone on his porch with his arm and shoulder in a bandage. Adam... (full context)
Chapter 22
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Adam Trask has drawn into himself; Cathy’s departure has caused a great sickness in his mind.... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Sam has to first convince Liza to let him visit Adam—she believes Adam is a bad influence and doesn’t want her husband to associate with such... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Sam arrives at Adam’s door, but Adam tells Sam he is unwelcome. Sam begins to shout at Adam, building... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Sam and Adam go to look at the boys—Adam has never really looked into their faces before. Adam... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Adam, Lee and Sam sit down with dinner and begin to consult the Bible for names.... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Eventually, though, Sam and Adam agree that the names Cain and Abel carry too much darkness in them, and. settle... (full context)
Chapter 24
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...of the landscape. He saves his visit to the Trask place for last. Lee and Adam ask Sam to stay for dinner and he agrees. Sam looks at Adam’s unplanted land... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
As Sam is leaving, he tells Adam he has a medicine that might cure him and might kill him. Adam says he... (full context)
Chapter 25
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...The funeral is in Salinas and it is somber. Though he hadn’t wanted to come, Adam feels compelled to attend, for he cannot believe Sam is dead. He leaves the burial... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Adam arrives at Kate’s in the evening. The woman at the door tells Adam that Kate... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Adam cannot stop smiling. He asks Kate why she has so much hate in her. Kate... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Kate changes gears and tries to seduce Adam. Adam is not susceptible to her charm anymore. He notes that Kate has not asked... (full context)
Chapter 26
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Adam should have been sad and bitter after Sam’s death and his conversation with Kate, but... (full context)
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Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
When Adam returns home Lee notices a change in him. Adam tells Lee he wants to get... (full context)
Chapter 27
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...vows to one day bring her home. Aron is deeply upset by the thought of his father and Lee lying to him, but Cal shows no emotion. (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...house and notice a strange carriage in their drive—they have visitors. When they go in Adam explains to the boys that their visitors got lost in the storm and have taken... (full context)
Chapter 28
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...dinner the boys tell their father about Abra, and ask where their mother’s grave is. Adam tells them it is in the east, and that some people like to be buried... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Lee and Adam discuss the risks of moving to Salinas—the boys would be closer to their mother, and... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
That night Adam writes a letter to Charles—the first one in roughly ten years. He asks Charles to... (full context)
Chapter 29
Time Theme Icon
A few days later, the Ford that Adam wanted to buy arrives. A mechanic comes along to try and teach Adam how to... (full context)
Chapter 30
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
A week after the driving lesson, Adam, Lee and the boys are driving the car around, and stop by the post office.... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
After the boys go to bed Adam and Lee talk about Charles’s letter. They realize that because Adam and Cathy have never... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Cal sneaks away from the door of the room where Adam and Lee have been talking—he’s heard the whole thing. He quietly sneaks back to the... (full context)
Chapter 31
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
The next day, Adam goes to see Kate about the inheritance. He tells her she is entitled to half... (full context)
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
On his way back from the house, Adam stops at the Steinbeck’s house. Little Mary and John peek out through the door at... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Adam goes straight from the Steinbeck’s house to Dessie’s house. He goes to a little place... (full context)
Chapter 35
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Lee helps Adam make the move to Salinas, and afterwards says his goodbyes. As per his previous agreement... (full context)
Chapter 36
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...simply heard some incorrect information. He pushes the thoughts from his mind. That night, as Adam reads in his chair, Aron puts his hand on his father’s shoulder gently, and sweetly... (full context)
Chapter 37
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
As time passes, Adam becomes enamored of various new technologies. He buys a Victor Victrola (a new music player)... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Later that year Adam executes his great plan. Many major businessmen are excited about the venture, but no one... (full context)
Chapter 38
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...and Lee tells him she is missing something: kindness or conscience perhaps. But, Lee continues, Adam has almost too much kindness and conscience in him, and when Cathy left, something died... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...overnight. His father comes to pick him up in the morning. Instead of getting angry, Adam seems apologetic. He tells Cal they should get to know each other better; Adam resolves... (full context)
Chapter 43
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...hard to get ahead in school, and he is set to graduate a year early. Adam could not be prouder of him. He glowingly boasts to Lee about Aron’s accomplishments. Meanwhile,... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Adam assumes Aron will tell him as soon as his exams are finished, and Adam buys... (full context)
Chapter 47
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Adam is appointed to a spot on the army draft board. The responsibility weighs heavy on... (full context)
Chapter 49
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
At Thanksgiving time, Adam, Lee, Cal, and Abra go to the train station to greet Aron. Adam is anxious... (full context)
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...react as planned. He is silent. Cal quickly explains how he made the money, and Adam grows disgusted. He states that he does not want this money stolen from poor farmers,... (full context)
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...if he doesn’t understand Lee, and Lee tells him to remember he has a choice. His father couldn’t help but reject the money, but Cal has a choice in how he reacts.... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...his pocket and resolves to destroy them. The next day the sheriff goes to see Adam Trask and informs him that his wife has killed herself, and left her fortune to... (full context)
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Adam and Lee wait for Aron to come home. When they don’t see him for a... (full context)
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...explains everyone is descended of barbarism. Lee leaves when he sees Cal understand, and finds Adam in the hall, slumped against the wall clutching a note in his hands. It is... (full context)
Chapter 52
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Adam Trask is deeply confused by his son’s sudden departure. His eyes begin to fail him,... (full context)
Chapter 53
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Adam takes to sleeping in short bursts throughout the day and night. Lee sees that Adam’s... (full context)
Chapter 54
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Adam’s health is beginning to improve slowly. Finally at the end of May, the azaleas bloom,... (full context)
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...open, he tells himself not to be a coward, and to have courage. He hears Adam opening the door. (full context)
Chapter 55
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...return home, Lee is there to give them some terrible news. Aron is dead, and Adam has had a stroke. He cannot move or speak, and he may live for as... (full context)
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...help Cal understand. Lee takes Cal upstairs to his father’s room. Lee loudly explains to Adam that his brain is injured, but he must strive to listen. He commands Adam to... (full context)