Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 48

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 48


  • The N***** dies and has an austere funeral. Joe goes to have a look at her austere corpse at her austere wake.
  • Coming out, he runs into one of the town gossips, Alf Nichelson. Joe really doesn't want to talk to Alf, but Alf wants to talk to him (he likes to talk), so he decides to share some rumors about Kate's place.
  • This grabs Joe's attention. They go to a saloon and Alf spills every little piece of information about Faye and Kate, including Faye's slightly-more-than-suspicious death.
  • Joe splits after this—dude understandably needs some time to process this new information.
  • Later Thelma, one of the girls, comes into his room and asks him why Kate has been in such a terrible mood.


  • Joe is really careful about playing his cards right. When he goes to get his nightly orders from Kate, he carefully informs her that he met someone in Salinas who had seen Ethel.
  • Kate explains to Joe that the reason she was looking for Ethel was because she had wronged her—it turns out Ethel didn't steal from her at all.
  • Then Kate offers Joe money. You know, just in case he should ever need it.
  • Joe leaves, remembering his father's advice to avoid a soup-carrier—someone who is always bringing a gift or good deed. They do it because they want something.


  • Kate goes into her grey room and pulls out the capsule hanging around her neck.
  • Then she goes out to the house and asks one of her girls if they went to the N*****'s funeral. She wants to know what it was like.
  • Later she touches the capsule and feels reassured.

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