Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 28

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 28


  • The boys are kind of weirded out by the change in Adam. Usually he doesn't pay any attention to them but now all of a sudden he's trying to fix eleven years of bad parenting.
  • Adam asks the boys about the rabbit hunting, and Aron tells him about how he wanted to marry Abra. Cal uses the opportunity to ask about their mother's grave.
  • Adam thinks quickly and comes up with a story about their mother being buried across the country.
  • He brings up the suggestion that the family move to Salinas. Aron is really down with this idea, because Abra lives there.


  • After the boys go to bed Lee and Adam go over the accounts. But the talk turns to whether or not Adam should tell the boys the truth about their mother.
  • Lee thinks that Adam should tell them the truth, because it wouldn't be good if the boys found out that he had been lying this whole time.
  • Adam is reluctant.
  • Lee cites himself as an example; his father told him the whole gory story about his own mother. Speaking of which:
  • In China, Lee's father needed to pay a debt, and in the American west they were recruiting Chinese people to build the railroads. So he shipped aboard a boat bound for San Francisco. Unbeknownst to him, though, his young wife had shipped aboard too, dressed as a man.
  • Oh, and she was pregnant.
  • So Lee's parents get to California and are sent to the Sierras to build tunnels. Lee's mother had to keep her identity a secret because she was the only woman in a group of women-deprived men.
  • Lee's parents worked out a plan where they would eke out a place in the higher mountains for the baby to be born, and they started storing away rice and rags and anything they could.
  • At this point, Lee says that he wishes that there was a happy ending to this story. A boulder broke his father's leg, and Lee's mother went into early labor; the men in the camp went crazy and brutally raped her.
  • When Lee's father was finally able to crawl to her, she didn't even have eyes left. She told Lee's father to claw out the baby from her torn-up body and then she died.
  • But Lee says that his father always reminded him that despite what those men did, they all took the greatest care of Lee.


  • Adam has a new plan: he wants to write to his brother.
  • Easier said than done when you haven't said a word to each other in over a decade, though, so Adam pens a fairly awkward letter about how things are (glossing over the whole incident with Cathy/Kate) and invites Charles to come out west to visit.
  • He has a vision of Charles's dark, angry face, and tries to remember him smiling but can't. He tacks on a P.S. to the letter saying that he has always loved him.

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