Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 11

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 11


  • While Adam talks about possibly travelling, Charles hears something outside. They find a person covered in mud with blood running down her forehead crawling up the steps.
  • Adam immediately rushes to help her inside. Charles, however, wants to put her in the wagon and take her to the doctor—he's worried about what the people in town will think if two men living alone happen upon a badly beaten woman.
  • Adam coldly tells Charles to just go get the doctor. He gets the woman inside and starts nursing her wounds.


  • Cathy is hurt really badly, and her skull and jaw are both cracked.
  • The doctor questions Adam and Charles on who she is and where they found her, but both insist that they don't know her.
  • Adam, though, is adamant about taking care of her, even though Charles isn't.
  • Over the next few days Cathy is in and out of consciousness and heavily drugged, but then she starts piecing things together in her mind, like the fact that the sheriff wants to question her and Adam is protecting her.
  • The sheriff finally demands that Cathy answer his questions by writing down her answers (she can't speak because of her jaw). She writes that she doesn't remember anything—not even her own name.
  • Now Cathy has everyone on her side except for Charles. There is something about Cathy that he recognizes and doesn't like. She sometimes sees him scratching his scar.


  • Adam is totally smitten with Cathy, who is recovering quickly now.
  • But Cathy is worried about her situation.
  • One day she calls Charles into her room and asks him why he doesn't like her. Charles doesn't have an answer other than that he seems to recognize something in her. When she asks him what he intends to do, he says that he is going to put her out in about ten days.
  • Charles also mentions that while she was drugged she talked a lot in her sleep; he sees Cathy's subtle reaction even though she claims that she doesn't believe him.


  • Cathy is freaked out now because her tricks don't work on Charles and she needs protection.
  • So she turns to Adam. When he comes home she turns on the water works and tells him that she never lost her memory, spinning a story about some secret that she can't tell having to do with protecting her father.
  • Adam totally buys all of it, which is great, because Cathy then drops the hint that Charles wants to get rid of her.
  • Adam leaves the house and goes outside to stare at the fields and the sky. Everything suddenly seems crystal clear to him and he loses track of time.
  • Feeling elated and in love, he goes back to Cathy and asks her to marry him. She says that she is unsure and asks for the night to think about it.
  • After Adam leaves, Cathy goes to the bureau and looks at the scar under her bandaged forehead. She knew even before Adam did that she was going to marry him; even though she doesn't want to be married, she needs Adam's money and protection.
  • Also, she feels an affinity with Charles.


  • Adam goes out to the field to help Charles out. Charles tells him that one of their neighbors found a suitcase full of men's clothes and a box with four thousand dollars in it. No one has claimed it yet, but someone is bound to.
  • Charles then tells Adam that the whole county is talking about the fact that a woman is living with the two of them, and he tells Adam to get rid of her.
  • Adam tells Charles to give him one more week, and Charles agrees. He asks if Cathy's memory has come back and Adam says that it hasn't.


  • Five days later, Adam drives Cathy into town and marries her. They come back to the farm and greet Charles with the news.
  • Charles says congrats by calling Cathy a two-bit whore who will tear Adam to pieces.
  • Adam tells Charles that they are going away.
  • In the bedroom, Cathy begs Adam to let her leave so as not to cause discord between the two brothers. Adam says that it's okay, because they are going to California.
  • But Cathy says that she doesn't want to go to California; Adam thinks this is nonsense and lets her know that California is awesome and they are going there anyway.
  • Adam drags his cot into Cathy's room. Cathy tells him that she can't be a wife to him (wink wink nudge nudge) until she is well enough. 
  • Adam says he'll wait.
  • They have some tea, and Cathy exclaims that Adam has drunk the tea with her medicine in it on accident. Oops—Adam falls into drugged-up sleep.
  • When Charles comes back home later that night and gets into bed, he opens his eyes to find Cathy standing over him. She tells him to move over.
  • Charles mentions that he's already been with a whore that night, but Cathy says that he can handle it. Charles just laughs and throws back his blanket for her.