Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 5

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 5


  • Okay, now back to the Hamiltons. Let's talk about the children:
  • First there is George, who is sinless.
  • Next comes Will, who cleaves to tradition. That's because when Will was young, Samuel was a foreign newcomer to the Salinas Valley, so Will really didn't like being different in any way. But he has a crazy talent for making money.
  • Tom is the next son, and he's the most like his father in terms of inventing things, though he's bolder in terms of what he will try.
  • Joseph is the youngest son, and he's not good at anything.
  • Interspersed are the girls: Una, Lizzie, Dessie, Olive (the narrator's mother), and Mollie.
  • Liza is inexperienced, unread, and untraveled. She reads the Bible and doesn't listen to anyone, but she raised a good family, so she is well respected.
  • Liza also thinks that alcohol is the most sinful thing there is, but when the doctor prescribes her some port wine she starts drinking with zeal, and it generally makes her a nicer person to be around.
  • So these are the happy Hamiltons in the Salinas Valley, all groomed for success in their own various ways. It's too bad that the land isn't worth inheriting, since Samuel just can't find any water on the place.