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John Steinbeck


In the novel, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Catherine Ames is one of 
the main characters. She is introduced to the reader as a monster and 
as time goes on, she possesses both monster like and animal qualities. 
As Catherine she gets older and wiser, she gets more evil and displays 
her monster and animal like characteristics. She knows she is powerful 
and indestructible. She has manipulated and tricked many people her 
life causing them to go to the extreme... death. 

 Catherine "Cathy" shows her evilness and her monster like behavior 
in many scenes throughout the book. Steinbeck illustrates Cathy as 
being a monster on pages 95 and 96. "I believe there are monsters born 
in the world... It is my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the 
tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her 
life," said Steinbeck. Cathy used this to her advantage by making 
people uneasy, but not so uneasy that they would not run away from 
her. Cathy was born with an innocent look that fooled many; she had 
golden blond hair, hazel eyes, a thin and delicate nose, and a small 
chin to make her face look heart shaped. According to the town Cathy 
lived, Cathy had a scent of sweetness, but that is just what Cathy 
the town to see and think when Cathy planned her kill. On page 
114-115, "The fire broke out... the Ames house went up like a
rocket... Enough remained of Mr. and Mrs. Ames to make sure there were 
two bodies." Cathy had set the house on fire and broke into the safe 
to steal the family's money. As the investigators scoped the place, 
they noticed that the bolts stuck out and there were no keys left in 
the locks. They knew it was not an accident. Cathy's body was never 
found, but the town assumed that she died. "If it had not been for 
Cathy's murder, the fire and robbery might have been a coincidence." 
Steinbeck, again, portrays the reader that Cathy is a monster on page 
242, "When I said Cathy was a monster it seemed to me that it was so."
Steinbeck is reassuring the reader that Cathy is a monster and with 
the evidence before and after this statement. For example, Cathy later 
changes her name to Kate and runs a whorehouse. While she runs the 
house, she takes pictures of all the important male individuals in the 
town to later send to their spouses and families. Cathy plans to send 
the pictures whether they caused trouble or not.

 As Cathy's character evolves, Steinbeck changes his description 
from a monster to an animal. "Her head jerked up and her sharp teeth 
fastened on his hand across the back and up into the palm near the 
little finger... her jaw was set and her head twisted and turned, 
mangling his hand the way a terrier worries a sack." Steinbeck said on 
page 253. Cathy's sharp teeth fastened into a man's hand who was only 
trying to help. Cathy's sharp teeth sunk into the man's flesh like a 
dog's canines would have. She tore away at the skin and twisted and 
turned her head to resemble a dog. "Do you think I want to be human? 
Look at those pictures! I'd rather be an animal than a human," said 
Cathy. Cathy admits she would rather be an animal than a human. The 
physical features of Cathy are that of a human but the mental state of 
her resembles an animal. Although, Cathy seems to down grade and be 

paradoxical about herself because humans are much smarter than dogs, 
but she says she is smarter than any normal human. She knows how to 
manipulate any individual without trying. On page 427, "Uncontrolled 
hatred shone in Kate's eyes. She screamed, a long and shrill animal 
screech." Cathy, for unknown reasons has animal characteristics. This 
one just happens to be the screech of an animal.

 Steinbeck uses Cathy for suspense in his novel. You never know 
what she is going to do next or what she is thinking. She has more 
characteristics of a monster and an animal than a human. Cathy's 
character has no talk about being normal except for her looks. I think 
the only sensible thing she did in her life time was not killing Adam, 
her loving spouse, and committing suicide. She has not a care in the 
world and her only love is hatred.



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