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Free Study Guide-East of Eden by John Steinbeck-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 11

Part 6

Five days later Charles left the farm on an errand. Adam immediately loaded Cathy onto the buggy, took her to town, and married her. When they returned home and announced what they had done, Charles flew into a rage and called her a whore. Adam told Cathy he wanted to get away from the farm and Charles and move to California. When she said she did not want to go, he informed her that since she was his wife, she had to go with him.

When it was time for bed, Cathy asked her husband to sleep in her room; but she told him she could not have sex with him yet because she was not completely recovered. She asked him for some tea. When Adam drank his, he said it tasted odd. Cathy told him he must have drunk her cup of tea with her pain medicine. Before long, Adam fell into a heavy sleep. Then Cathy went to Charles’ room and told him to move over and let her in his bed. She told him Adam had drunk her medicine and would be sleeping soundly. Charles threw back the cover to let her in.

Notes

In this chapter, Steinbeck continues to point out the differences between Adam and Charles. Adams still urges his brother to spend their inheritance, traveling to Egypt or Europe. In contrast, Charles has no desire to travel or leave the farm. When Cathy is found on their stoop, the two brothers have completely opposite reactions to her. Charles wants to take her to town immediately, for he does not want to spoil his reputation by keeping a woman in the house. In contrast, Adam insists upon putting Cathy in his room and caring for her. When Charles wants the sheriff to come and question Cathy, Adam feels she should be protected and left alone. Most importantly, the two brothers develop very different emotions for her. Charles is totally suspicious of Cathy, sensing something evil in her. In contrast, Adam falls deeply in love with her.


Cathy sees the differences between the brothers. Even though she appreciates Adam’s kindness and knows that she can easily manipulate him, she feels a real kinship with Charles. Steinbeck symbolically indicates their similarity by the scars that both of them carry on their foreheads. Both of them are Cain figures - heartless and amoral. Cathy proves her heartlessness and immorality when she marries Adam. It is clear that she does not love him; instead, she marries him for protection and to irritate Charles. She has no intention of staying married for long, as indicated by her refusal to entertain the thought of moving to California with her new husband. Her actions on her wedding night totally prove her lack of morals. She tells her husband she cannot have sex with him because she is not completely healed. She then proceeds to drug Adam, by putting her pain medicine in his tea. As soon as he is soundly asleep, she goes into Charles’ room and gets in bed with him. Charles does not resist her advances, proving his amorality. Having sex with Charles on her wedding night to Adam indicates that Cathy symbolically married Charles while she literally married his brother.

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