Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 31

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 31


  • The next afternoon Adam tells Lee that he's going into town; Lee is not surprised.
  • Adam is at Kate's place by the late afternoon. He shows her the letter and Kate asks Adam what he has told the lawyers about her—he hasn't told them anything. Kate is free to claim the money if she wants.
  • Kate thinks that Adam wants to buy her off, but he genuinely doesn't have an ulterior motive. This drives Kate crazy. She can't figure Adam out.
  • Adam, on his end, senses that Kate is afraid of him, but he doesn't understand why—he's just being honest, after all.
  • As Adam is about to leave, he has a revelation: Kate only understands the bad in people and is confounded by the good in them. That's why she can't understand why Adam would just give her the money that is hers. He tells her that he wonders if she knows what she is missing out on.
  • Kate tells him that the good things Adam is talking about are probably just his own crazy, deluded hallucinations, but after he leaves, she is enraged and sorrowful.


  • Since Adam has two hours to kill until the next train, he decides to call on one Ernest Steinbeck, Olive's husband. Little Mary and John—yes, that John, a.k.a. the author— peek at him from behind their mother.
  • Adam introduces himself and says that he'd like to speak to Liza. She lives with Olive now and has a pet parrot named Polly who used to belong to a sailor and can only say obscene things.
  • Adam tells Liza that he is thinking about moving to Salinas. She tells Adam to see her daughter Dessie if he needs a house, because Dessie wants to move back to the ranch with Tom. Also, she says that Adam should go see Tom.
  • After he leaves, Adam walks by Dessie's house and then goes to a restaurant. He sees Will Hamilton there, and they talk about the conversation he just had with Will's mother.
  • It sounds like Tom isn't handling Samuel's death so well. Also, when Will hears from Adam that Dessie is moving back to the ranch, he seems really against it.