Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 42

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 42


  • People think of war as this distant, remote thing that never really happens to you, and instead always happens to someone else.
  • Americans particularly don't really see war as something that they lose. They tend to forget all of the losing. Take the Mexican-American War, for example—it was a total mess, but no one ever talks about it that way.
  • In WWI, we just didn't learn the lesson, and we were shocked that Germany would be willing to instigate a war with us. Us. Unthinkable.
  • At first this distant war was like watching a sports game, but then the young men of Salinas who were sent to the front start dying by the dozens.
  • People start to lose the spirit then, big time.
  • But just like Will Hamilton predicted, the troops start buying up beans like it's nobody's business.