East of Eden

East of Eden

Sam Hamilton Character Analysis

Sam Hamilton is the larger-than-life patriarch of the massive Hamilton family. His land in California is dry, and though Sam is better than anyone at finding water in the ground, he has never been able to find any on his own land. He has made a living as a well-driller and a blacksmith, and enjoys making and inventing things for the fun of it. He is a humorous, deep, curious, and highly intelligent man who is admired by almost everyone in Salinas, and whose wisdom proves especially valuable to Adam. His eventual aging and death saddens many, though his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of most of the other characters.

Sam Hamilton Quotes in East of Eden

The East of Eden quotes below are all either spoken by Sam Hamilton or refer to Sam Hamilton. 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 2 Quotes

They landed with no money, no equipment, no tools, no credit, and particularly with no knowledge of the new country and no technique for using it. I don’t know whether it was a divine stupidity or a great faith that let them do it. Surely such venture is nearly gone from the world

Related Characters: John Steinbeck (speaker), Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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Chapter 15 Quotes

Pidgin they expect, and pidgin they’ll listen to. But English from me they don’t listen to, and so they don’t understand it…That’s why I’m talking to you. You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.”

Related Characters: Lee (speaker), Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

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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 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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One day Samuel strained his back lifting a bale of hay, and it hurt his feelings more than his back, for he could not imagine a life in which Sam Hamilton was not privileged to lift a bale of hay.

Related Characters: John Steinbeck (speaker), Sam Hamilton
Page Number: 253
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.

“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:

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.

“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:

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

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 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:

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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Sam Hamilton Character Timeline in East of Eden

The timeline below shows where the character Sam Hamilton appears in East of Eden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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
The first-person narrator introduces us to the Hamiltons. Sam Hamilton is an Irishman, descended of Irish kings, who left Ireland (rumors allege) because of... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Some people in the Salinas Valley are not like Sam Hamilton. Sam came with nothing, determined to make a life for himself and his family—the... (full context)
Chapter 5
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
Sam Hamilton’s family continues to grow. George is born, then Will, who even as a child... (full context)
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...her from the sheer impressiveness of her competence. Liza hates alcohol of all kinds, and Sam has to hide any alcohol he drinks from her or she will scold him horribly.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Money, Wealth, and the Value of Work Theme Icon
...a large piece of property for sale along the river. He is told to see Sam Hamilton, who will knows if a well can be brought up on the property. Adam... (full context)
Chapter 15
Identity Theme Icon
One day Adam sends Lee to the Hamilton house to fetch Sam. Lee obliges and as he and Sam are traveling back to Adam’s property, Sam asks... (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
Sam asks Lee why is he content to be a servant. Lee says a man not... (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... (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 something terrifying... (full context)
Chapter 16
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
As Sam rides back from the Trask property he tries to understand why he is feeling so... (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... (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
...her size. She sits quietly watching the flurry of activity around her. One day while Sam is drilling, Lee comes running outside and insists that Sam come inside to help—Cathy has... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Sam goes into the bedroom and Cathy looks furious. He manages to get her to tell... (full context)
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Lee tries to clean up Sam’s wound, and they talk about Cathy. Sam says he “feels a dreadfulness coming” and Lee... (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
...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 can find no fault with... (full context)
Chapter 18
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... (full context)
Chapter 22
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...Cathy’s departure has caused a great sickness in his mind. For a while Lee and Sam did their best to help him, but eventually gave up, for Adam could not be... (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... (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... (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... (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. Sam suggests that... (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,... (full context)
Chapter 23
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Una Hamilton, one of Sam’s daughters, marries a man who becomes obsessed with developing color photography. He succeeds, but along... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
The difference between Sam and Tom is that Sam is able to find his way out of complex trains... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...their father has grown old. They can hardly stand to think of a world without Sam in it, and Tom is the most upset of all. They agree that Sam’s life... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
When Sam receives an invitation from Olive a week later he knows immediately what is going on.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Time Theme Icon
Sam has some difficulty getting Liza to agree to go on vacation with him to visit... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
As Sam prepares himself to leave the ranch, likely for the last time, he memorizes all the... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
Sam goes in to see the boys—it has been ten years since he helped to name... (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... (full context)
Chapter 25
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...a telegram at the ranch and knows what it will say before he opens it: Sam has died. The funeral is in Salinas and it is somber. Though he hadn’t wanted... (full context)
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...finished hers. The alcohol once again makes her cruel. She tells Adam she is glad Sam Hamilton is dead, for she hated that man with all her being. (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 instead he feels euphoric. He goes to see... (full context)
Chapter 31
Religion, Myth, and the Power of Stories Theme Icon
...boy John, whose full name is John Steinbeck. Adam introduces himself to Olive, explaining that Sam and Liza helped him deliver his sons. He simply wants to offer his condolences to... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...and says he doesn’t trust Tom. He believes Tom has been acting crazy ever since Sam’s death. His defiance only lasts a moment though, and he doesn’t speak of it any... (full context)
Chapter 33
Good, Evil, and the Human Soul Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...and the whorehouses provide little comfort to him. Dessie feels saddened by this, and wishes Sam were still alive, for he could have pulled the greatness out in Tom. They change... (full context)