Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 41

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 41


  • And now the United States is sliding toward World War I, and everyone is getting excited because it's been a long time since they've been lucky enough to go to war.


  • While walking to school, Aron talks to Cal about how he's all mad at their father for losing his money. The boys are a laughingstock in town and Aron wants out.
  • Cal makes Aron a proposition: if Aron takes the entrance examinations (think turn-of-the-century SATs) early and passes a year early, Cal will work hard to earn some money to send Aron to college.
  • But there is a caveat: Cal tells Aron not to tell their father, because it would make a great surprise.
  • Aron doesn't see the point of that, and really doesn't care what their father thinks.
  • This makes Cal want to shout at Aron that he knows who their mother is, but he keeps his mouth shut.
  • Later Cal asks Abra what's up with Aron, and Abra suggests that Aron actually enjoys making himself into a martyr over the whole lettuce thing.
  • Later later Cal asks Adam if he can go down to the ranch and take a look around.
  • Lee takes Cal aside and mentions that he has five thousand dollars, just in case Cal ever needs it.


  • Cut to Will Hamilton's office at the auto garage. One day Cal shows up asking for some business advice.
  • Cal is blunt: he wants to make moolah, and lots of it. Will appreciates Cal's frankness.
  • But Will also wants to know why, and Cal tells him that he wants to give it to Adam for the money he lost.
  • This hits a personal note with Will. He was the least imaginative of the Hamiltons, even though he was the most financially successful, and he always felt like they disliked him.
  • So he asks Cal about his relationship with his father and his brother, and Cal admits that he is trying to buy his father's love.
  • That seals the business deal. Will and Cal go out for a drive and Will asks him to be his business partner. Conveniently, it will cost him a five thousand dollar investment up front. Go figure.
  • Will's idea is that the United States is going to enter the war any day now, and when they do the price of beans will skyrocket. So they are going to have the tenant on Adam's ranch plant beans.