East of Eden book review

The first book I read in 2019 is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. The plot often dragged or went off in incoherent tangents, and so the book was about 600 pages, but the story was delightfully unpredictable. The characters spoke with such impassioned, opinionated, and poetic eloquence, so unlike how modern-day dialogue is written.

The story heavy-handedly mirrors that of Cain and Abel, with the murderous jealousy of Charles towards Adam and Cal towards Aron. In the unbearable despair, there is the message oft repeated, “thou mayest” choose to overcome sin. Not a command to overcome sin, nor a promise that you will overcome sin, but a choice to overcome sin. This message is meant to uplift, that no matter your background, even if you are descended of someone unrealistically inhuman, the choice between good and evil is yours alone.

There were two characters I liked in particular. Lee, the servant, was introduced as some racist caricature, but it turned out that was all a front of his to avoid trouble, and he dispensed sagacious wisdom throughout the novel. Then there was Samuel Hamilton, with the energy and wit to enliven all who came across him.