Tuesday, May 4, 2010

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This was a very interesting book. Like I said previously, it has just about everything in it. Good, bad, murder, Irish wisdom, Chinese wisdom, familial tensions, lost love, suppressing parents, history, religion, and whorehouses. Lots and lots of whorehouses.
The major theme of this book is good vs bad. What makes someone good or bad? Is it our surroundings? Is it because of Cain and Abel? Is it due to what kind of parents we have? Or are we capable of choosing to be good or bad?
East of Eden follows two families through three generations and what constitutes the good and the bad of the family. At times, a very depressing book. I found myself unable to read because I just wanted the characters to grow and I was afraid they wouldn't. I found myself wondering how often I say "that is just who I am" or "I take after my father or mother". Is this reason enough for me not to change? I think it is hard to change the cycle of families. Those that do it, are the ones with real courage and that was the golden nugget from the book.
My one issue with the book is the female characters. There were not many redeeming qualities in the woman in the book. Maybe I was just being overly sensitive. I tend to like my woman strong and not crazy. There was redemption of this at the end.
I wish I had a book group to discuss the book with because there are many parts that would elicit interesting conversation. So instead I will share some facts on Mr. Steinbeck.
1. He considered this his greatest work even though it came at a time that critics suggest his writing was declining.
2.He grew up in Salinas, the setting for most of the book.
3.He had a falling out with a close friend and he wrote this a few years after the friend died. (There is so much brother tension in the book I just had to find a reason why. I don't know if this is true. Just hypothesising).
4.His book Grapes of Wrath, was the 6th highest book to be banned from 1990-2004.

He was a controversial writer and I would guess a controversial person in life. Very interesting.


Lula O said...

Great review! I'm totally wanting to read this now. It's good to have friends that read classics so they can be discussed. That is why they are classics after all. Because they have a story to tell that resounds with each generation. Speaking of sounding, this one seems like a good one. I've always wondered that too, from a science point of view especially, how much of me is genetic and how much of me is a product of my environment?

Hopefully I'm a little more good than bad though..hopefully.

Tanja said...

Your definitely more bad :)!That is why your my friend.

Stephanie said...

This sounds really good! I'm going othave to read this (and that's saying a lot because I've always been intimidated by Steinbeck).