Genesis Retold

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden is certainly a novel in epic proportions.  The story is everyone’s story.  It is the tragic re-telling of the Adam and Eve ill-fated love story and the murder of Abel by the hand of Cain.  However, though it seems impossible, the novel goes even deeper than this.  Amidst the engrossing tale, Steinbeck introduces themes of love, murderous consequences of the lack of it and war.  War itself is a dynamic character in the book, first revealing itself as a brutal, but chivalric, entity through Adam’s experience in the Spanish conflict.  Later, war morphs into an amorphic experience considered futile and its combatants no better off than a death row inmate.  In the end, however, Steinbeck effectively reveals his ultimate theme, found in the term timshel.  The notion that “thou mayest” choose your own path reigns at the end.


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