In John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Cathy Ames is presented as a monster. She is the most evil character in the novel, and rightfully so. Cathy manipulates other characters into doing her bidding by tapping into their weaknesses and trusting natures. Physically speaking, Cathy had a face of innocence, formed in the shape of a heart, which contrasts with her morally culpable, sinful behaviors. Cathy was born a Catherine, the name meaning “pure” which she is shown not to be from the very beginning.
In John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, the archetypal mother figure of Olive Hamilton, who is modeled after the author’s own mother, is sharply contrasted with the novel’s antagonist, the ultimate anti-mother figure of Cathy Ames. This juxtaposition of characters highlights not only Olive’s loving, selfless nature, but also Cathy’s diabolical, egocentric one. In Chapter fourteen of East of Eden, Steinbeck presents his readers with the first description of his mother’s character, explaining that she was a woman of beauty, poise, pride, and humor. The ultimate testimony to Olive’s character, however, is given on page 151: “Olive had great courage.
In the novel, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, rhetorical devices are used to illustrate the characters throughout the book to be either be good or evil by the usage of diction, connotation and denotation as well as other rhetorical devices. By using rhetorical devices it allows the audience to gain a better deeper comprehension of the book. The rhetorical devices allow Steinbeck to describe the characteristics of each character to define them as either good or evil which allows the reader to analyze the parallels between one another. In addition, rhetorical devices for example metaphor, tone, diction, simile, imagery, analogy, allegory, and paradox contribute to the author’s style which creates an image for readers to comprehend. Steinbeck uses word choice, tone, anaphora to highlight the juxtaposition between Cathy Ames and Abra Bacon to illustrate how evil and goodness change the perspective about their inherent point.
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, reflects the complexities in father/son relationships. The connection between a father and his son is vital to their development. The novel explores the impact of these relations is immense. The central allusion of the novel is comparing several characters to Cain and Abel, who were formed through their attempted relationship with their father-like figure, God. They struggled and vied for the attention, love, and respect of God, which subconsciously influenced their actions and thoughts.
In John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden, the author explores mankind’s endeavor to overcome internal and worldly evil by utilizing biblical allusions and circular prose. One can infer that the novel is a great biblical allusion with the story of Cain and Abel from the Book of Genesis being a reoccurring insinuation. Steinbeck applies these biblical allusions to specify the moral and immoral characters in his novel. For example, Charles Trask receives a “long and crinkled scar” on his forehead that “turns dark brown” while he is filled with a malevolent rage (46). Later on in the story, Cathy Ames is also marked with a scar during a grisly altercation with the pimp she was exploiting.
Cal’s Internal Struggle Not any one person or character has a single characteristic. Personality is made up of a multitude of different things, good and bad. This holds true in John Steinbeck’s, East of Eden, because even though Cal makes immoral decisions he is still human with other admirable attributes. Cal fights against his nature that was passed down to him by Cathy without ever giving up. He discovers how special Aron is, but keeps his composure, “Cal stared fiercely at his brother, at the pale hair and the wide-set eyes, and he suddenly knew why his father loved Aron, knew it beyond doubt.”
Steinbeck describes Cathy from her early childhood. He writes that she was always a strange and fascinating child. She was born as an only child to the Ames family. She was always a liar, but not like many other children lie, her lies “were not innocent” and, unlike others, “she never forgot her lies” (East of Eden 98). She also at a very young age learnt the power of sexuality and there was one incident, when she is ten years old, in which she locks herself and ties herself in the barn with two fourteen year old boys.
The other women in the novel: Liza and Olive Hamilton, Abra Bacon, and even Steinbeck's mother are described to be caring, affectionate, and loving, all the characteristic of a mother, which contrast to Cathy. Although Charles can appear dark natured, there are moment where he expresses human emotions like love and guilt, Cathy expenses none of this because she is inhuman. In addition, to her son, Cal can become dark, however, he has illustrate he can conquer over sin and live a high-minded life. “What made Kate so effective was the fact that she had either learned it or had been born with the knowledge” (241). Therefore, Cathy places an important role in the plot of evil is human nature.
In many classic novels, it is rare to find any interaction between female characters. Even rarer, interaction between women where they aren't discussing or competing over men. John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath’s portrayal of a healthy female relationship is well beyond its years for the portrayal of women in literature. The bond between the stoic Ma Joad and her self-centered daughter Rose of Sharon shows solidarity among women, as Rose of Sharon is forced to realize how much fortitude she possesses. Without the guidance of Mama, Rose of Sharon would have never been able to overcome the struggles a pregnant woman faces whilst making the journey from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life.
It is noteworthy that this story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is the foundation of the religion with the largest number of followers worldwide. Why does it continue to resonate with so many people even today? The reason is that this utopia contains archetypes that reflect the collective unconscious that is found across all cultures. This is the result of universal themes in this story about humanity’s needs and desires that we still see occurring in our society today. The story of Genesis contains three archetypal characteristics that illustrate these patterns that still demonstrate humanity’s needs.
Furthermore, the author displays a dystopian society completely dominated by a totalitarian and theocratic state. The main subject of this novel is the role assigned to women, mainly represented by the handmaids. In Gilead, the made-up country where the novel takes place, women are completely subjected by the government, and especially by men, who clearly have a higher status than women. Moreover, women’s freedom is entirely restricted, as they cannot leave their house at their will, they are forbidden to hold properties or jobs, they cannot read or write, and they are treated as sexual slaves whose only purpose in life is to bear children for elite spouses. The other option is a miserable, short life at the Colonies (a type of concentration camp), and death.
Masculine and Feminine Roles in Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums” In the story “The Chrysanthemums”, by John Steinbeck, Elisa Allen lives an unsatisfactory life as she desires more than what is bestowed upon her. The reader learns Elisa’s husband is culpable for not seeing the beauty of his wife, leaving an open door for the antagonist, a traveler, to prey upon Elisa’s. Steinbeck uses Masculine and Feminine roles of the early 20th century, Internal Conflict, and an antagonist, to show Elisa’s struggle for Identity. Steinbeck illustrates Masculine and feminine roles of the 20th century in the “Chrysanthemums” to show Elisa’s struggle with identity.
The psychologist, Carl Jung, says that universal characters reside within the collective unconscious of people around the world. These characters are called archetypes. According to Jung, every story has similar archetypes to each other. The Pearl, written by John Steinbeck, also has archetypes. There are many different archetypes in the novella, The Pearl. Three of these archetypes are the hero, the trickster, and the shadow.