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  • Jen - Devourer of Books 10:55 am on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cathy, , , section 4   

    East of Eden Section 4 Discussion: Cathy Again! 

    In section 4, Cathy begins to fall apart somewhat. She sits in the dark in a little shack attached to the whorehouse because the light hurts her eyes, and she keeps her hands wrapped up because they ache with arthritis. Why do you think Steinbeck had this happen to her? Is she being punished in some way for the evil acts she has committed? Is her latent conscience punishing her?

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    • softdrink 6:54 pm on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      You know, I never even thought of Cathy having a latent conscience, but that’s a good point. I just thought she was increasingly paranoid.

      • jendevourerofbooks 7:06 pm on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Oh, I’m not married to the idea of the latent conscience, just one possibility. If she was just increasingly paranoid, what was doing it?

        • rebeccareid 2:28 pm on March 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          Well, it was the people coming from her past — that Ethel really scared her. No one had ever come back to her before. I wondered why she’d stayed in the same place for so long without changing her name. She should have moved on and changed her name again before settling down for so long. It was a mistake for her to stay in Salinas, if she wanted to keep getting away with everything.

    • hip chick 6:38 pm on March 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      drugs and/or alcohol. There is the possibility that she had some type of mental illness all her life and it just got worse and worse.

    • Ronnica 5:14 pm on March 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think it was the physical manifestation of her sin (this is still a story…it doesn’t have to be rational). Her sin/evil quite literally ate away at her.

    • rebeccareid 2:26 pm on March 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      i think everyone who commented has a valid point. Certainly the drugs she took plus her lifestyle took a toll on her and yes, kind of like the wicked never prosper. This is a somewhat religious story after all, with all the Biblical undertones so it makes sense for the wickedness to come and kick her in the butt in the end.

  • Jen - Devourer of Books 9:30 am on February 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cathy, , , Section 2   

    East of Eden Section 2 Discussion: More About Cathy 

    Evidently when East of Eden was first published, it really wasn’t critically acclaimed. In fact, some critics even totally panned it. One of the things that was mentioned as being ‘wrong’ with the book was Cathy. People thought it was totally unrealistic that in Section 1 she basically just ran away from home to become a whore. In Section 2 she does it again. Personally I think the critics totally missed the point as to why she became a whore: for the power it could bring her, not for the sex. Thoughts? How does Cathy use men’s desire in the first two sections to get her way? Do you think that her running away to a whorehouse twice is realistic?

     
    • hip chick 1:42 pm on February 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think that is where she ran to because in those times there were not many other options for a woman who did not want to be beholden to a man. I think she wanted power, as you said. I also think that what ever was evil in her wanted to hurt men or have them under her.
      It is interesting that when the book came out it would have been mostly men in the positions to be critics. It does not strike me as unusual that they would find a woman running away to become a whore as realistic. I’m sure that they just could not understand why a woman who could have had whatever a nice man could give her would have wanted anything else. I’m sure they could never understand how being a whore could be preferable to being a nice wife or a nice daughter or even a nice “kept woman” for that matter.
      I do think her running away to a whore house twice is realistic. Perhaps we are able to understand it better now than when the book first came out. We are so much more cynical now. And we are able to see that depravity every night in our own family rooms on TV.
      I was surprised at the sexual evil in her. I was surprised that such a thing was written about back then. I suppose every generation thinks that they invented good and bad in people.
      Of course, it is only history repeating itself.
      I do think that she did what she did not just for power but also for the sex. I think she was so evil and depraved that she wanted that. I think it was part of her sickness…if you can call it that.
      She exploited the good in men to get what she wanted.
      I don’t think Cathy was any more evil and depraved then than she would be now. I do find the way we judge her to have changed though.

      • jendevourerofbooks 1:46 pm on February 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        ” I suppose every generation thinks that they invented good and bad in people.”

        Well said!

    • seabenjamin 5:02 pm on February 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi all,
      I am a recent book blogger and am looking forward to seeing how your new group goes.
      -Sea
      http://www.readingwithsea.wordpress.com

    • anilak_99 10:20 am on February 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hello-

      What I am wondering is the extent to which Steinbeck drew the parallel to the book of Genesis. If the characters of Caleb & Aaron were based on Cain and Abel from the bible, then by extension, Cathy would have been based on Eve and on the Genesis narrative in which Eve leads Adam to transgress God’s laws. Am I correct in thinking that?

      Because Eve tempted Adam to eat of the fatal fruit, the early fathers of the church held her and all subsequent women to be the first sinners, and responsible for the Fall…So far, it appears to me that Steinbeck is instead holding them both responsible for the consequences; Cathy for having no empathic concern and Adam for allowing his to trump reason…

      • jendevourerofbooks 10:44 am on February 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I think you could definitely argue that Cathy is sort of supposed to be Eve. Adam and Samuel say as much before the twins are born. It obviously isn’t a direct retelling of the Genesis story, not least because Adam and Charles have their own Cain and Abel thing going on. It does focus more on that part of the story, and the universality that Steinbeck believed that had, but I do think he meant for us to draw some parallels between Adam and Cathy and Adam and Eve, Adam himself certainly isn’t subtle about it. What does everyone else think?

        • Ronnica 11:45 am on March 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          I agree that the allusions to Genesis are thick in this book (in both brother situations) but that you can’t go so far as to extrapolate out that Cathy is Eve. Perhaps Cathy as Adam sees her could represent Eve, but not as she really is.

    • Ronnica 11:43 am on March 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think Cathy knows too well the depravity of man. She knows EXACTLY how to get what she wants, and that’s to exploit the sinful desires of others. Yet she also understands that everyone else hides their sin nature, thus giving her even more power (the pictures of the powerful men in compromising situations).

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