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Free Study Guide-East of Eden by John Steinbeck-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 15

Summary

Part 1

Adam did not miss the east. He looked over his western land with deep contentment. For the first time ever, he was happy that his father had made him a wealthy man, for he wanted to improve his land and found a dynasty on it. Adam and Cathy lived well. They hired a Chinese servant, named Lee, who cooked and cleaned for them. Even the pregnant Cathy seemed satisfied with her life, trusting in herself and "abandoning what she could not get and waiting for what she could get." Always a manipulator, Cathy answered with what she knew Adam would want her to answer whenever he talked to her. Cathy was, however, bothered by their servant, Lee. He made her uneasy because she could not control him as she could all the other men in her life.

Part 2

One summer day, Samuel was working with his son Tom on a new kind of raccoon trap. Lee drove up and asked Samuel to come to the Trask place to help Adam with his water. Tom wanted to go, but Samuel told him he should stay and finish the trap. As Samuel was riding in the cart with Lee, he asked the Chinese man why he still used pidgin in his speech and wore a braided ponytail although he had lived in the United States all his life. Lee explained that the Americans expected him to speak and groom himself in this manner. Samuel then asked why Lee was content to be a servant. Lee told him he liked the power of being a servant, for he felt he could control his master.

Part 3

Samuel and Adam rode over the Trask land, stopping for Samuel to use his tuning fork to search for water. He found two places with plenty of water. As they traversed the land, Adam told Samuel about his life: how he had been in the army, how his family had lived in Connecticut, and how he had found his direction in life when he met Cathy. Samuel said he would do all he could to find water on Adamís land so he could fulfill his dream.

Part 4

Lee set the supper table outside, where Samuel and Adam joined Cathy. Samuel realized that conversation was going to be difficult as soon as he sat down. Adam was so absorbed in Cathy, and she was so abstracted that neither of them listened to him. When Samuel looked at Cathy, he found that her eyes communicated nothing, causing him to shiver. He finished his meal early and prepared to leave. In the barn, Lee and Samuel entered into a conversation in which the Chinese man immediately showed his trust in the visitor. He asked Samuel if he needed a servant. Samuel, surprised that Lee might want to leave the Trasks, said that he had no money for a servant.


Part 5

After dinner, Adam and Cathy sat outside. Although Adam talked about the plans he had for his land, Cathy was at first silent. She then told him she did not want to come to California and that she would go away as soon as she could. He told her she did not know what she was talking about and that everything would change once she had the baby. He asked her not to talk that way any more.

Notes

The meeting between Adam and Samuel initiates an important relationship in the novel, for the two men are to become friends. Samuel is portrayed as a happy, humorous, and truthful man, a deep thinker, and a clear visionary; in contrast, the portrait of Adam is begun as a tortured man who is entrapped by his fate. When Samuel looks in Cathyís eyes, he recognizes her lack of humanity, which makes him shiver. His reaction to her furthers the idea that she is an evil aberration. Samuelís immediate insight into Cathy is a stark contrast to Adamís blindness to Cathyís evil.

The encounter between Samuel and Lee is interesting. Lee, immediately trusting Samuel, drops his pose as ignorant, servile, and uneducable. Lee "comes out" to Samuel because he trusts him. He tells Samuel that he is "one of the rare people who can separate observation from preconception."

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