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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The novel is set in the Salinas Valley of northern California and a farm in Connecticut. The time spans the years before and after the turn of the nineteenth century, ending after the start of World War I.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
The first person narrator and grandson to Samuel Hamilton in the novel.
A native of Ireland. He is the first generation to arrive in the Salinas Valley from the home country. He makes his living as a blacksmith, well digger, and informal doctor.
A man who created a brilliant military career out of his imagination and managed to become a high official in the military establishment. He loved his son Adam but not his son Charles.
The son of Cyrus Trask. He dearly loves his father, who does not return the love. Although he loves his brother Adam, he also has an intense jealousy of him.
The well loved son of Cyrus Trask, who does not return his fatherís love. He is sent to join the army against his will. He marries Cathy Ames and moves to the Salinas Valley to start a farm. He raises twin sons by himself after Cathy shoots him and deserts him.
Cathy Ames/ Catherine Trask/ Kate
A woman without morals whom the narrator calls a monster. She kills her parents and steals their money, making it seem like an outside murder and a robbery. She shoots Adam to escape him after she has just had twins. She becomes a prostitute in Salinas and eventually becomes a madam after murdering her predecessor.
A Chinese-American servant of the Trasks in California. He devotes himself to making a home for Adam and raising the twins. He is the philosopher of the novel.
Aaron "Aron" Trask
One of the twins of Adam and Cathy Trask. Open and innocent by nature, he is the good son, who is loved by everyone. With his light hair and nice features, he is also quite handsome. He goes to war in order to escape from Salinas after he finds out about his mother.
Caleb "Cal" Trask
The second twin of Adam and Cathy Trask. A contrast to his brother, he is dark-haired and secretive. He distrusts all the people in his life and manipulates their emotions to get his own way. Before the end of the novel, he undergoes a transformation, chooses goodness, and becomes the repository of hope for the future.