The Significance Of Sibling Rivalry In Steinbeck's East Of Eden

1513 words - 6 pages

East of Eden
The struggle of sibling rivalry over ability and temperament has taken East of Eden in a whole new perspective. Steinbeck’s portrait on sibling rivalry shows the good vs. evil of each character in the story. The nature of good vs. evil as natural selection is also seen in siblings, as a compete for something physical, mental, or something emotional. The sibling rivalry from the biblical characters embraced Steinbeck’s characters throughout every concept in the novel, the good vs. evil confines the characters personality in every idea of Steinbeck’s novel. From the biblical story of Cain and Abel to Adam and Charles to Cal and Aaron the story continues through out every generation.
John Steinbeck's novel, East of Eden is the epic story of a California family who struggle to overcome issues of betrayal, infidelity, and the age old battle between good and evil and sibling rivalry. The story centers around two generations of brothers in the Trask family-Adam and Charles, and Adam's sons Aron and Cal. In each generation, one of the Trask brothers is moral and good while the other brother behaves badly and immorally. Because the good Trask brothers are favored, the bad Trask brothers develop envious tendencies and a recurrent theme of sibling rivalry appears throughout the book. Steinbeck's dramatic account of the Trask brothers and their rivalry in East of Eden is an impressive tale, but it is also a familiar one that closely echoes a
story from ancient literature-it is an allusion of the well-known story of Cain and Abel in the Bible.
In the Bible, the brothers Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain is "a tiller of the ground" (Genesis 4:2-5) a farmer while Abel is "a keeper of sheep" (Genesis 4:2-5) a sheppard. One day, both of the men make an offering to God-Cain offers God “the fruit of the ground for the lord” (Genesis 4:2-5), and Abel offers Him "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof" (Genesis 4:2-5). When God proclaims that he favors Abel's gift over Cain's, Cain becomes angry and jealous towards Abel and he eventually kills him. Although God is fully aware of what has transpired, He asks Cain where Abel is, and Cain answers Him untruthfully saying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:2-5). After God reveals to Cain that he knows of Abel's murder, God banishes Cain to another part of the land and places a mark on him so that no man will kill him.
Sibling rivalry is a crushing reoccurrence in East of Eden. First Adam and his brother Charles, then Adam's sons Cal and Aron, act out a drama of jealousy and competition that seems fated Lee calls the story of Cain and Abel the "symbol story of the human soul." Steinbeck illustrates the central theme of good versus evil through two of his primary characters Samuel Hamilton, who represents goodness, and Cathy Ames, who represents pure evil. Both characters play crucial roles in the spiritual development of...

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