Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 34

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 34


  • The narrator asks about the meaning of life and other deep stuff. He tells the story of Croesus, this rich dude of antiquity who asked if he was lucky and was answered that no one could say until he died.
  • The same is true now, and when a rich person dies what matters isn't how rich they were, but whether they were loved or hated.
  • The narrator gives us three examples: Guy #1 was ├╝ber-loaded and when he died, by golly was everybody glad. Guy #2: similar story.
  • But Guy #3 devoted his life to helping people who were frightened regain their dignity, and when he died everybody and his brother mourned.
  • Now, says the narrator, it seems that people just want to be loved, and everything they do, even when it's bad, is in an attempt to be loved.
  • The only way to really have a successful life is to not have everyone glad that you are dead when your time comes.
  • The moral of this tangent is this: evil has to be constantly re-made, but goodness is immortal.