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East Bay Municipal Utility District, Supplemental Water Supply Project

    East Bay Municipal Utility District, Supplemental Water Supply Project

East of Eden Supplemental Background Information


"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck, published in September 1952, began as a family chronicle intended for his sons, Thom and John. The novel intertwines Steinbeck's own family history (the Hamiltons) and a mythological narrative (the Trasks), exploring themes of good and evil, free will, and predestination.

The Hamiltons

  • Characters: Samuel and Liza Hamilton, Steinbeck's maternal grandparents, their children including Steinbeck's mother Olive.
  • Narrative: Focuses on the domestic problems of the Hamilton family, with anecdotes reflecting both factual and fictional elements.
  • Connection to the Trasks: Sparse, but certain conversations between Lee, Samuel, and Adam link the two storylines.

The Trasks

  • Structure: A cyclical narrative featuring two sets of characters (Cathy, Charles, Adam, Cal, Aron, Abra) paralleling the biblical story of Cain and Abel.
  • Themes: Examines free will, predestination, and the moral complexity of good and evil.
  • Character Symbolism: 'Cain' characters (beginning with 'C') tend to be more destructive, while 'Abel' characters (beginning with 'A') are more nurturing.

Acceptance of Eden

  • Reception: Despite its fragmentation and complexity, the novel was well-received for its moral depth.
  • Steinbeck's View: Steinbeck considered it as the culmination of his literary skills and experiences.
  • Adaptations and Legacy: Adapted into films and a TV series, the novel has maintained its popularity. Initial reactions in Salinas (Steinbeck's hometown) were mixed due to perceived portrayals of local residents.

Biblical Text

  • Genesis 3:22-24; 4:1-16: The biblical story of Cain and Abel serves as a foundational element for the novel's themes and character development.

This summary provides an overview of the supplemental background information for "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. It highlights the novel's development, key characters, themes, and its cultural impact.