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PinkMonkey.com-MonkeyNotes-East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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Chapter 5

Summary

Samuel Hamilton, the husband of Liza and the father of nine children, was an uneducated artist and intellectual, who borrowed books from the library of a rich family. At first, he was distrusted in the Salinas Valley because of his foreign roots; however, Samuel did not think of Ireland at all, for he was totally focused on his life in America. Because of his hard work and kindness, he soon became accepted as one of the great men of the valley. Samuel never became rich, largely because his land had no water even though he had dug several wells. Still he provided well for his family. The house in which they lived constantly increased in size, with one addition after another.

The Hamilton sons are described. The gentle and courtly George, the oldest son, was a "sinless boy and grew to be a sinless man." The stolid and conservative Will was "truly beloved of the gods." He made money in one venture after another until he became rich. Tom, the third son, had great passions including "a driving sexual need," but he never married. Joseph, the fourth son, was lazy, convincing everyone of his inability to do all kinds of work until they took care of him.


There were also five Hamilton girls: Una, Lizzie (who became estranged from the family when she grew up), Dessie, Olive (the narrator’s mother), and Mollie. Their mother, Liza Hamilton, stamped all her children with a strict moral code. Liza was well respected in the community because her children were well behaved and her husband was well liked. She hated all kinds of liquor until one day, when she was seventy years old, her doctor ordered port as a remedy for one of her ailments. From that point onward, she stayed slightly intoxicated at all times.

Samuel was well pleased "with the fruit of his loins." They were totally independent and totally Americanized. He knew that they would succeed without help from their parents

Notes

In this chapter, Steinbeck describes Samuel and Liza Hamilton in some detail. He then gives broad descriptions of their children. At this point, each Hamilton child is something of a type rather than a fully rounded character. One son represents wealth, and another represents passion; one daughter represents beauty, and another represents laughter. Samuel is proud of his children, whom he has raised to be fully American and fully independent. In the last sentence of the chapter, which sounds intentionally Biblical, Samuel’s pride is seen: he "was well pleased with the fruit of his loins."

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