Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 27

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 27

1

  • Outside the twins are hunting rabbits with the bamboo arrows Lee made for them; one of the boys nabs one.
  • It was Aron who shot it, and Cal says that he's going to give Aron the credit for it even though it was Cal's arrow. The two boys argue over whether they are going to divide the credit or not.
  • Cal starts to pick a fight, but Aron just walks off—he is scared and puzzled by his brother.
  • Cal is the one who looks more like Adam. He's also heavier set, but has small hands for his size.
  • The two boys reconcile, and they decide to give the rabbit to their father. Cal talks about how when Adam dies, all the land will be theirs, but Aron can't quite understand the idea of death.
  • Cal also knows a secret, and Aron begs him to tell him. So he does: Cal knows that their mother isn't dead. He heard some men talking in town.
  • Aron doesn't believe him—he can't conceive of their father lying to them, and he starts to cry.
  • Cal sees that he has a new tool to use to hurt Aron, and he decides to put it away for now, so he tells Aron that he was just joking.
  • On the way home the boys get caught in a rainstorm. They run laughing and soaking back to the house.

2

  • When they get home there is a strange buggy at the house. Looks like visitors.
  • In the living room they hear a woman's voice, which is a big deal to them because they don't have much experience with women. Aron briefly entertains the idea that it's their mother before he remembers that he thinks that she's dead.
  • After they get dressed they hear a girl's voice. This is, like, a huge deal.
  • Lee ushers them into the living room where there are a man and a woman in fancy-shmancy city clothes and a young girl.
  • Aron is awkward when he shakes hands with everyone, especially with the girl. Cal has more confidence, and sn*****s at Aron.
  • The family, who got caught in the rain, are the Bacons. The girl's name is Abra, after a Matthew Prior poem, as Mr. Bacon proudly tells them. Aron, misunderstanding Mr. Bacon, defends Abra's name.
  • Then Mrs. Bacon does the whole kids go play outside thing and sends them all away.

3

  • Now Mr. Bacon and Adam talk about his land. Adam is apologetic about how he hasn't farmed it, but because he's rich, the Bacons find his laziness forgivable.
  • Mrs. Bacon is shocked to learn that Lee was the one who raised the boys. Mr. Bacon suggests that Adam rent out the land and move into town where his boys can attend the good public schools.
  • Lee can tell that the Bacons are up to something but he can't catch Adam's eye.
  • Adam isn't listening to the conversation and is instead remembering how Cyrus would make him and Charles do drills. Suddenly, he has the revelation that he wants to see his brother.
  • The Bacons are again shocked when Adam suddenly tells them that he hasn't written to his brother in over ten years. Anticipating that they will want to get the heck out of there, Lee goes to get their buggy ready.

4

  • Out on the porch, the kids all stand awkwardly; it's raining so they can't do much.
  • Abra is a sharp, pretty girl of ten, and not at all shy like she appeared to be. Right away she makes fun of the twins's understanding of eggs and fertilization (though she doesn't understand it either).
  • They decide to go play in the original dilapidated house. Adam had stopped the construction in the middle so there are still chandeliers and things just sitting in crates.
  • Abra informs the boys summarily that she lives in the super-cosmopolitan and cultured town of Salinas, though she still offers to maybe play with them a little sometimes maybe if she happens to be driving by.
  • This is enough for the boys, and Cal offers to give Abra the rabbit they shot. At first Aron is outraged, but then he goes with it, even offering to clean it and put it in a box for her.
  • Abra feels herself falling a little in love with Aron.
  • Now Abra gets downright condescending and pretends that the boys are poor, starveling orphans. Cal doesn't go for her stories, which makes her dislike him, but Aron is totally caught up in it.
  • Abra asks where their mother is buried and why they don't put flowers on her grave. This is a new opening for Cal to prove that their mother isn't dead, so he goes along with the whole flowers idea.
  • Aron goes to wrap up the rabbit for Abra, and while he's gone, Cal and Abra stare each other down. She is no longer in control. Cal is going to punish her for liking Aron better. Over the years, he has become at expert at it, because pretty much everyone likes Aron better. It's gotten to the point where Cal associates not being loved with triumph.
  • Cal realizes early on that Abra acts like an adult, and that that is her weakness. So he asks her what grade she's in and laughs when she answers.
  • But here's the real kicker: he also mentions that Aron has another surprise for her that he won't talk about—something that scurries around and bites. Cal knows that Aron will tell Abra not to open the box right away, and he incorporates that into his lie.
  • Abra, knowing that she has lost, starts to go back to the house, so Cal spins another lie: he tells her that Lee secretly beats the boys, and that they don't dare tell their father.
  • Abra's parents call to her from the buggy, and she goes to them. But first Aron runs out of the house with a box wrapped with ribbons. He tells her not to open it right away. She looks revolted and shrinks away as he thrusts it into her hands. Cal whispers to her that she has wet her pants.
  • As the buggy drives away Abra throws the box out. Aron is devastated—he had put a letter in the box asking her to marry him—and Cal reassures his brother.