Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 36

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 36


  • The twins are in seventh grade now, and Cal comes up with an ingenious plan so that they don't have to do any work in school. He's really clever and it makes people respect him, but also fear him and not like him that much. Poor Cal.
  • But everyone is in love with Aron. He has angelic hair and skin—you just can't compete with angelic hair and skin.
  • But Aron is also a tough fighter when he's hurt. Cal knows how to outsmart Aron, since Aron isn't able to handle complexities. It's all or nothing with this kid.


  • At school Aron keeps trying to find Abra, and after school he follows her home (creepy).
  • Abra comes out and the two of them walk to a willow tree while Aron talks about them getting married and having babies. Whoa—slow down.
  • But even though Aron wants Abra to be his wife, he also wants her to be his mother. Um
  • After Aron does some crying in Abra's lap, Abra asks him some questions about his mother. Why is she so curious? Because she's got a secret, that's why. That one time when they were at the Trask ranch, Abra overheard her parents talking about how Adam's wife had gone away.
  • Aron just can't believe that his father would ever tell a lie, but Abra makes him promise that he will keep what she told him a secret.
  • The newly-established young lovers walk to Abra's home and part.


  • Afterward Aron goes back to the willow tree to think things through. He can't stomach the thought that his mother is alive because that would mean that Adam (and Lee) are liars.
  • So he chalks it up to an incorrect rumor that Abra's parents just overheard. His mother must certainly be good and dead.