Selfish Ambition In John Steinbeck's East Of Eden

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Cathy Ames ignores the well-being of others and makes choices based on selfish ambition and profit, which leads to her ability of scrupulous planning. It appears “that Cathy… was born with tendencies, or lack of them, which drove her and forced her all of her life” (Steinbeck 72). Most humans have natural instincts that allow them to function in a civil society together; nonetheless, Cathy does not possess such attributes and differs from how most people behave and feel. A chance encounter between the gray James Grew and Cathy leads to one of her first nefarious actions. Nothing happens until they meet and “[f]or a time it was noticed that a flame leaped in James Grew… and then the flame went out” (Steinbeck 79). The author implies that Cathy …show more content…

Cathy’s joy comes from using beauty in an egocentric way to deceive people similar to how she misleads James Grew. While beauty aids her, she has the capability to critically analyze the situation to determine the best way to secretly steal James Grew’s heart and crush it without anyone suspecting. Another instance of her corrupt mind happens when a “fire broke out at about three o’clock in the morning” and by the time people arrive, Cathy’s parents and their house remain as nothing but ash and charred pieces. Though no one finds her at the scene of the crime, Cathy “left a scent of sweetness behind her” (Steinbeck 86 & 89). Within the text, it is apparent that Cathy burns her house, along with her parents, since the father punishes her and she believes they hold her back. The fire happened on purpose from Cathy’s deliberate calculations and the cautious measures she takes to carry out the plan. No average human being could accomplish these heartless tasks without feeling some sort of guilt or regret. Cathy, however, does not feel anything except some twisted happiness at what she has …show more content…

Patience becomes one important attribute that Catherine has to master during this part of her life. Catherine encounters a man named Mr. Edwards and tricks him by acting in the guise of a sweet, innocent woman. The gullible man suspects nothing unpleasant out of Catherine henceforth. Then she seduces Mr. Edwards into acquiescing a house where she can temporarily reside. It appears Catherine begins to wisely think further ahead in her life as she grows older, for the actions she takes affects her ability to reach the life she desires. In this particular situation, she leads Mr. Edwards on and beats down his mental stability so that “[w]hen she had successfully reduced him to a pulp, and Catherine knew exactly when the time had come, she began to steal from him” (Steinbeck 94). Stealing the money allows her to become less dependent on others, which benefits Catherine. After ruining Mr. Edwards, and him almost killing her, she reverts her name back to Cathy and comes upon Charles and Adam Trask. Immediately, she forms a devious plan to use Adam Trask for her personal gain. She allows the brothers to nurse her until she is healthy once again and she clings to Adam as a safety net so that she can advance with her plans. Following Adam to California, no one “could have known that Cathy did not want to be where she was” (Steinbeck

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