Friday, March 12, 2010

East of Eden

Spring Break started on Friday, which means I have a good week at home to do whatever I want. Yesterday, I finally tucked into East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I bought a copy of the book after reading The Grapes of Wrath during my junior year of high school, so it's been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to crack it open for three years. I think it's about time.

I fell in love with Steinbeck's use of language in The Grapes of Wrath, and even though I'm only a few chapters into East of Eden it's clear that it's going to be just as beautiful to read, if not more-so. Steinbeck thought of this book as his magnum opus, and described it as the book that he had been practicing to write for his entire career. That's pretty heavy if you think about it, since Steinbeck has a lot of amazing novels to his name.

Apparently the major theme in this novel is Biblical, as seems to be the case with so many of the world's great works of literature. In particular, East of Eden parallels the story of Cain
and Abel, the ill-fated sons of Adam and Eve. Since I don't know very much about the Bible (most of my knowledge of it is derived from Mr. Deity, which you should totally go check out; it's hilarious), I did a Wikipedia search on the subject. This is what I found:
Adam knew his wife Eve intimately, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, "I have had a male child with the LORD's help."[33] 2Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of a flock, but Cain cultivated the land. 3In the course of time Cain presented some of the land's produce as an offering to the LORD. 4And Abel also presented [an offering][34]— some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions.[35] The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.[36] 6Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you furious? And why are you downcast?[37] 7If you do right, won't you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it." 8Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field."[38] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Cool. Yay, murderous creepy people! This should be a fun read.

Being home makes me feel like I must be just east of Eden myself. My family lives in a seriously beautiful place. It's the kind of beauty that you don't really get over, even after living
surrounded by it for a long time like I have. I love spending time with my folks, and being able to get away from school for a few days isn't shabby either.

That's not to say that I don't have piles of homework to finish by the time I get back. I have little to no idea as to how I'm ever going to get this organic chemistry problem set done...

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