Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 43

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 43


  • One day Lee walks in and Adam is very pleased with himself because he just found out by chance that Aron is taking his college examinations early. He's incredibly proud and plans on getting him a gold watch.
  • He also thinks it's too bad Cal doesn't have some ambition like his totally amazing brother.


  • Mr. Rolf is the Episcopalian priest who mentors Aron. He is rather traditional, even for a priest.
  • Aron admits to Mr. Rolf that sometimes he wishes he could just withdraw from the world because he finds it so dirty.
  • But Mr. Rolf tells him that it's their duty to help the low and filthy. Take the woman who has been coming to service lately, for instance. Mr. Rolf knows that she is a local brothel owner.
  • This news disgusts Aron, but Mr. Rolf insists that it's their duty to be patient when she comes to ask for salvation.
  • Mr. Rolf seems nervous about telling Aron all this, though.


  • Adam keeps waiting for Aron to break the news to him about his examinations, and he even plans a little party with champagne.
  • One day Aron tells Adam that he's going to dinner at Mr. Rolf's. He gets all dressed up for it.
  • Adam wonders what Aron is celebrating, and Cal exclaims that Aron didn't even tell Adam that he passed his exams. Aron tries to cover it up, but Cal catches him in the lie.
  • Cal goes out for a walk, and later Lee finds him waiting on the front porch to beat Aron up. Lee tells him to go inside.
  • Lee waits on the front porch for Aron, and he tells him to go tell his father about the exams. But Aron doesn't really care what his father thinks.
  • So then Lee threatens to fight him, and says that it will be very embarrassing if he has to fight someone half his size.
  • Aron breaks down and says that he wants to get out of Salinas because it's a dirty town. Lee consoles him, telling him that he's just going through puberty when everything seems like either one extreme or the other (amen).
  • Lee tells Aron to go to bed and tell Adam about the exams in the morning. Oh—and Adam left a little present on Aron's pillow.