22 February 2010
East of Eden Response
The genesis of Adam Trask's maturity, a maturity that is brought about by his sudden perception of truth, occurs when the sixteen-year-old becomes aware of the inveracity of his father's self portrayal as a Civil War hero and "one of Lincoln's closest, warmest, and most trusted friends." Although this particular epiphany awakens Adam to Cyrus's disappointing web of lies, such a prevailing loss of innocence reveals to him the duality of life and human nature, thus forever changing his perception of choice and truth.
The Hebrew term timshel, often referred to in the later ...view middle of the document...
Adam realizes this duality in mankind when he sees Alice smiling because, for the first time in his life, he sees her happiness. Adam is finally able to see her as more than his father's servant; she has feelings and she wants to be happy, as do all human beings. Alice has never seemed unhappy to him before, but she never shows an immense amount of emotion over anything. Steinbeck's suggestion that all vices are mere shortcuts to love is epitomized within Alice as she utilizes her skills as a homemaker in order to please Cyrus. Her lack of emotion is what delights her husband, even though there was a whole other side to Alice. Adam quickly identifies with her because he sees that she wants love, too. Like his stepmother, Adam strives to make Cyrus happy, and they are both willing to sacrifice their own virtues in order to do so. Adam finally understands that there are two sides to human nature-including within himself, but each person must choose for themselves what he or she believes.
Adam tells his father that he does not want to enlist himself into the military; however, regardless of his own desires, he signs the paper and joins. Although he somewhat disregards his own desires, it is, nonetheless, a step towards truth which occurs later in his life.
As the years pass, Adam's exposure to his father's eye opening deceit changes his life and beliefs. He comes in contact with his father in Washington, where Cyrus tries to persuade his him to attend West Point by saying that he is able to have his Adam admitted to the military institution. However, things have changed; Adam has changed. He quickly tells his father that he does not want to go because he wishes to go back to his old regiment, which displeases Cyrus. However, it is not Adam's father's disappointment that satisfies him: it is his own sense of self-truth that he adopts as he begins to make his own choices. He...