Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 47

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 47


  • Adam is appointed to Salinas's draft board, which is a really awful job because essentially he chooses the young men who get sent off to war. He takes the job really seriously and is sad about it.
  • A colleague on the board named Henry Stanton tells Adam not to heap all the blame on himself. Adam admits to him that if either of his sons were called up he'd have to resign because he wouldn't be able to reject them for the army. Ugh, right?


  • On the way home Adam asks Lee if a man is responsible if he passes a boy into the army and then the boy is killed. He asks Lee about that one Hebrew word that he and Samuel talked about—you know, timshel, meaning thou mayest.
  • Lee says that it's a word that allows a man to be free, because he has the choice to be great or not.
  • Adam remarks that it sounds lonely. Well, so are all great things, says Lee.


  • Adam is really eager for Aron to come home for Thanksgiving. He misses him and has re-formulated Aron in his mind since he's been away; he wants to make a celebration of it.
  • At Stanford, Aron is miserable. He somehow thought that everything and everyone would be pure, but—newsflash—it turns out that college is just about the worst place on earth to look for purity.
  • Aron becomes dreadfully homesick and idealizes all of his memories of his family. It's the worst with Abra: he makes her into the purest of pure angels, but underlying his worship of her is sexual energy that he can't even recognize as sexual energy. Abra is weirded out by this.
  • Aron thinks that after Thanksgiving he might not go back to Stanford. He begins to consider Abra's suggestion long ago that they live together on the ranch—a suggestion that he immediately shot down at the time—and starts to think that it's the greatest idea ever because then he can hide from all the ugly ugliness of the world.