Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 12

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 12


  • We've made it to the year 1900. This is a big freakin' deal, and people are doing that thing where they look back to the good ole' days and make them out to be better than they were.
  • Oh—and here come the historians, all eager to sum up this past hundred years. Time for a crash course:
  • First there was the War of 1812 against the British, which the Americans totally won even though there was that whole thing about the White House getting burned down.
  • Then there was the Mexican-American War, which was like an uncomfortable picnic that resulted in (1) a lot of land and (2) the training of generals to kill each other in the Civil War.
  • Speaking of which, next come all the arguments about why slavery is, like, totally legitimate and not evil (ugh and boo). This leads to a lot of blood spillage.
  • And then, after a postwar boom, we crash with an economic depression (not the Great one—more likely the Panic of 1873 and the Long Depression).
  • The point being, the nineteenth century was actually a pretty rotten century as far as centuries go.
  • But a little thing like that isn't going to stop people from looking back fondly, now, is it?