East of Eden

East of Eden

Caleb “Cal” Trask Character Analysis

Cal Trask is the most obvious figure for the Biblical Cain in the novel: his father Adam loves his twin brother Aron best. Though his father hides Catherine’s identity from the boys, Cal eventually figures it out, and worries that her evil is reproduced in him. Over the course of the novel Cal struggles to learn that his fate—his decisions, his virtue, his goodness—is in his own hands. He succumbs to his more base impulses and reveals his mother’s identity to his brother. Aron (as Cal knew he would be) is distraught. Aron subsequently joins the army and is killed. At the same time, Cal falls in love with Abra, the girl Aron planned to marry, and she falls in love with Cal, believing her relationship with the “purely good” Aron is not at real as the one she shares with Cal. Cal is thus responsible for his brother’s death—but at the end of the novel, it is suggested that he is not beyond redemption. His father forgives him and blesses his marriage to Abra, and Cal knows he can choose to be good going forward.

Caleb “Cal” Trask Quotes in East of Eden

The East of Eden quotes below are all either spoken by Caleb “Cal” Trask or refer to Caleb “Cal” 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 and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of East of Eden published in 1952.
Chapter 30 Quotes

“Dear Lord...let me be like Aron. Don’t make me mean. I don’t want to be…I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to be lonely.”

Related Characters: Caleb “Cal” Trask (speaker), Aron Trask
Page Number: 379
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 38 Quotes

Where Aron was received, Cal was rebuffed for doing or saying exactly the same thing.

Related Characters: John Steinbeck (speaker), Caleb “Cal” Trask, Aron Trask
Page Number: 444
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Of course you may have that in you. Everybody has. But you’ve got the other too.”

Related Characters: Lee (speaker), Catherine Trask (Kate), Caleb “Cal” Trask
Page Number: 449
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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 53 Quotes

“He’s crammed full to the top with every good thing and every bad thing.”

Related Characters: Lee (speaker), Caleb “Cal” Trask, Abra Bacon
Page Number: 585
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Caleb “Cal” Trask Character Timeline in East of Eden

The timeline below shows where the character Caleb “Cal” Trask appears in East of Eden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 17
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...spell on Adam—that he can’t leave her side, and has barely given a thought to the twins . (full context)
Chapter 22
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...names Cain and Abel carry too much darkness in them, and. settle instead settle on Caleb and Aron. As Sam prepares to leave, Adam tell him his dream to build a... (full context)
Chapter 24
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...he helped to name them. Aron has dropped the second A from his name and Caleb prefers to go by Cal. Aron raises rabbits, and Cal has taken to gardening—this makes... (full context)
Chapter 27
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...boys creep through the Trask’s yard with bows and arrows, hunting wild rabbits. They kill one—Cal offers to let Aron tell everyone he shot the rabbit, though Cal’s arrow is clearly... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Cal tells Aron he heard some men saying that their mother didn’t die—that she is still... (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
...girl. Aron is struck by the girl and is almost too shy to introduce himself. Cal snickers at Aron’s awkwardness. The young girl’s name is Abra. The two boys and girl... (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
...they get outside. Abra clearly wants control, and gains it quickly, bossing the twins around. Cal can tell immediately that Abra likes Aron—he can see the beginnings of love forming in... (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
...Abra the rabbit they shot as a gift—when he goes inside to wrap it up, Cal tells Abra that there will be something vicious in the box—that Aron is putting in... (full context)
Chapter 28
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...go to better schools. Aron likes the idea, because he knows Abra lives in Salinas. Cal wonders what would happen to their ranch. Adam tells them to think about it and... (full context)
Chapter 30
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
The boys pretend to drive the parked car as Lee prepares dinner. Aron asks Cal why Cal insists on doing sneaky, tricky things. He knows Cal said something to Abra... (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... (full context)
Chapter 35
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...has time to remind Lee to write before Lee is out the door. Aron and Cal make a bet about Lee’s departure; Cal believes Lee is gone forever, and Aron is... (full context)
Chapter 36
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
In Salinas, Cal and Aron begin their 7th grade education at their new school Cal is respected by... (full context)
Chapter 37
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...He buries himself in his studies and begins to perform well in school. As for Cal, knowledge has always come so easily to him that he finds it hard to be... (full context)
Chapter 38
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Cal craves affection, but it seems Aron is always better loved than he is. He does... (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
Following this incident Cal approaches Lee and boldly tells him he knows where his mother is. Lee answers all... (full context)
Chapter 39
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
One night Cal is caught gambling and put in jail overnight. His father comes to pick him up... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
This affection and acceptance from his father puts Cal in such a bright mood that Lee thinks Cal has a girlfriend. Cal takes to... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
When they are settled in Kate’s office, Kate asks Cal what he wants. He says he doesn’t want anything. He tells her that Aron, his... (full context)
Chapter 40
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
...He agrees, and secretly wonders why an old whore is so important to Kate. When Cal begins to follow Kate she is wracked with fear, but now that she knows who... (full context)
Chapter 41
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...religion, and in the process become solitary and introverted. Aron’s detachment from the world angers Cal, who has to fight the urge to reveal his mother’s identity to Aron simply to... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Cal is determined to help Aron go to college and to earn back his father’s fortune... (full context)
Chapter 43
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...to give him as a reward. But Adam hears about Aron passing the exams from Cal, who is shocked to hear that Aron kept this information from his father. Lee hears... (full context)
Chapter 44
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...of courage, asks Lee if Mrs. Trask is still alive. Lee says yes. Just then Cal enters the kitchen. He is elated, and says he has a great present for his... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
The next day, Abra asks Cal to walk with her after school, and confides in him that Aron’s letter have been... (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 to see... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Cal plans out every detail regarding the present, which is 15 thousand dollars in gold certificates,... (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
Finally, it is time for Thanksgiving dinner, and Cal proudly gives the box to his father, who opens it and does not react as... (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
When Lee sees Cal later he begs him to stop it—Cal looks innocently confused, as if he doesn’t understand... (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
Cal goes out for a walk that night. After a while Aron catches up with him.... (full context)
Chapter 51
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
...for Aron to come home. When they don’t see him for a while they ask Cal if he knows where he brother is. Cal says “am I supposed to look after... (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
Lee finds Cal, and tells him that his mother committed suicide. Lee explains softly that people, especially Americans,... (full context)
Chapter 52
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...His eyes begin to fail him, and he has tingling in one of his hands. Cal worries for his father’s health, and asks Lee after a couple of months if they... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Cal catches up with Abra the next day. They have not talked in a while, and... (full context)
Chapter 53
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
After school the next day, Abra asks Cal to carry her books home. She looks into his eyes with a strange kind of... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Cal walks Abra home and they agree to see the azaleas rain or shine as soon... (full context)
Chapter 54
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 55
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
When Cal and Abra return home, Lee is there to give them some terrible news. Aron is... (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
Abra, Lee and Cal sit in the kitchen. Abra begs Lee to help Cal understand. Lee takes Cal upstairs... (full context)