East of Eden: Novel Summary: Part IV Chapter 54 -55

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Chapters 54-55
Although Adam suffered a mild stroke, he regains his health. Abra eases Cal's guilt concerning Aron.

As Lee plans his summertime garden, a telegram announces Aron's death in the war. Lee feels anger toward Aron for running away, refers to him as a "coward," then tells Adam the bad news.

Adam responds by having a stroke and lies near death when Cal returns. Lee helps Cal deal with his inevitable guilt and afer breaking the news to him about his brother and father, tells him to go to Abra who brings him back home. Lee passionately assures both of them that they have free choice, they are in control of their lives and they are not doomed to be like their errant parents. The three send the indignant nurse packing and stand before the dying Adam. Lee adamantly tells Adam that Cal should not have brought Aron to see his mother but that he did so because he believed Adam did not love him and asks Adam to bless Cal before he dies. Adam does so and utters the word timshel.
 
Analysis
The repetitive Cain and Abel motif is complete when Aron dies. Cain (Cal) has, in effect, once again killed his brother Abel (Aron). The highly moralistic, albeit cowardly, Aron runs away from travail by enlisting in the Army while the recalcitrant Cal stands his ground, finds love, and learns to live a normal life in all its various shadings. Although it seemed at the beginning that the Trask family was doomed to repeat their dysfunctional family dynamics instigated by Cyrus' original sin, Lee's introduction of the concept oftimshel into the family assures Cal that he doesn't have to repeat history and that choice is an option.

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