Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 25

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 25


  • On a particularly rainy March 15, a boy on horseback arrives to give Tom a telegram. It contains four words, the person, the event, and the time.
  • Tom goes into the house and gets out his black clothes. Then he lays on the bed.


  • After they leave the cemetery the family goes back to Olive's house, but Adam wanders around the cemetery instead. He has a hard time believing that Samuel is actually dead.
  • He walks out of the cemetery and is soaking wet by the time he gets to the town. He goes into a bar and the nice bartender warms him up with some drinks.
  • But then Adam asks the bartender if he knows about a place called Kate's. The bartender tells him to go next door to Jenny's; he insists that Kate's isn't good for him and doesn't say why.


  • Adam heads over to the row of whorehouses. He tells the girl at the door that he wants to see Kate, and after some arguing he is brought into Kate's room.
  • Kate's room is rich and plush. She herself is back to being blond again, and even though she is still pretty she has put on some noticeable weight. Her hands are old and wrinkled.
  • Kate is at her desk inspecting some incriminating pictures of various people. She puts the photos in manila envelopes as the girl comes in.
  • When she says that the man's name is Adam Trask, Kate's hands clench and grip her desk. She gives the jittery girl some heroin to go fix herself and tells her to post the pimp in the hall. After the girl leaves Kate gets out a revolver and puts it on the desk under a piece of paper.
  • Adam comes in and sighs at the sight of Kate. He tells her that he wanted to see her—actually see her as she is—and now he can forget about her.
  • Kate doesn't believe him, and says that maybe now they can get together. She goes to get them a drink and notices him noticing her fattened ankles and stomach.
  • Adam just smiles at Kate as she gets angrier and angrier. She also gets drunker and her viciousness comes out.
  • Kate claims that Adam is still completely at her mercy, but when she calls him a coward he just smiles.
  • Then Kate talks about her contempt for people who pretend to be good but really aren't—people like her parents and James Grew. She says that she hates liars and she loves to rub peoples's noses in their own nastiness.
  • Basically Kate thinks that the whole world is evil. When Adam doesn't believe her, she shows him some of the photos—they are of eminent, powerful, respected men who like to be whipped and degraded.
  • Adam comments that he doesn't think Kate is even human, and she responds that she is smarter. She says that if anything ever happens to her then all those pictures will get dropped in the mail.
  • Then she tells Adam a secret: in a few years she will be going away, and she is going to mail all those photos before she does.
  • Adam tells Kate that she doesn't hate the evil in the world, but the good that she cannot understand. But Kate has plans—she wants to find the man who beat her nearly to death and slowly drive him insane.
  • Adam needs to get out of there, but Kate tries to entice him with the promise of sex. She puts her hand on his arm and Adam is momentarily enthralled until he looks down at her ugly wrinkled hand. Then he withdraws.
  • Now Adam brings up his sons, and the fact that Kate hasn't even asked about them. That's when Kate hits him with it: how does he know that he's their father?
  • Yep, she tells him about how she slept with Charles.
  • Adam doesn't believe her at first, but as he reels from the alcohol he knows that it is true. But it doesn't matter, he says.
  • Kate tries to undress Adam but he heads for the door instead. Kate screams and the house pimp comes in and punches him. Kate wants him to break Adam more, but the pimp refuses because Adam isn't fighting back.
  • So instead Kate just tells Adam how much she hates him. Adam tells Kate that he loved her more than anything in the world.
  • Then he leaves and doesn't even turn when she calls his name.