East of Eden: Top Ten Quotes
1. "He developed a love for poor people he could not have conceived if he had not been poor himself."
Adam roams the American West after his army enlistment and gains insights
into social conditions.
2. "I guess if a man had go shuck off everything he had, inside and out, he'd
manage to hide a few little sins somewhere for his discomfort. They're the
last things we'll give up."
Samuel says this after Adam confesses to feeling guilty over his rich
California farm but he might be in error since Adam's fortune, after all, was
amassed by his father who lied about is military career to get his highly
influential government job.
3. "I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. . . . The
face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can
produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?"
The narrator remarks on the existence of evil in the world before applying the
appellation "monster" to Cathy.
4. "No one who is young is ever going to be old."
The narrator describes prostitutes as lazy, stupid, irresponsible and blind to
future when they will lose their physical attributes.
5. "And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human
is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the
freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected."
The narrator states his views of the individual creative mind and how it
should never be controlled by any group intent on socialization and conditioning.
6. "Some men are friends with the whole world in their hearts, and there are
others that hate themselves and spread their hatred around like butter on hot
bread." p. 144
Samuel's statement to Louis Lippo's statement that it would be difficult to
kill a man you didn't know and didn't hate.
7. "In human affairs of danger and delicacy successful conclusion is sharply
limited by hurry. So often, men trip by being in a rush. If one were properly
to perform a difficult and subtle act, he should first inspect the end to be
achieved and then, once he had accepted the end as desirable, he should forget it completely and concentrate solely on the means. By this method he would not be moved by false action by anxiety or hurry or fear. Very few people learn this."
Narrator's observations about Kate (Cathy) who never hurries but waits
patiently, unperturbed, for opportunities to achieve and complete her evil
8. "There are techniques of the human mind whereby, in its dark deep, problems are examined, rejected or accepted. Such activities sometimes concern facets a man does not know he had. How often one goes to sleep troubled and full of pain, not knowing what causes the travail, and in the morning a whole new direction and clearness is there, maybe the result of the black reasoning. And again there mornings when ecstasy bubbles in the blood." p. 327
On the train back from Samuel's funeral Adam sits in meditation. Steinbeck believed deeply in the power of the individual mind and here describes its power.
9. "Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk."
Adam, Lee and Will Hamilton remember their friend and father, Samuel Hamilton, and sing his praises. Samuel considers Adam to be a man "better than he was."
10. "War. [is] a reversal of the rules where a man is permitted to kill all the humans he can."
When Adam takes the job on the draft board during World War I, he reflects
back upon his own war experiences and how much he detested it.