Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 51

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 51


  • Remember Horace Quinn? He's now the sheriff of Salinas.
  • Sheriff Quinn and Kate were on good I-scratch-your-back-and-you-scratch-mine terms. He knows that she probably was responsible for Faye's death, but since there probably wouldn't be enough evidence anyway he doesn't push the issue.
  • When Sheriff Quinn goes through Joe's pockets he finds all of the racy X-rated photos.
  • He calls up a lawyer and asks whether Kate's scribbled will is legally sound; then he asks if the lawyer knew Kate, and whether she was blackmailing him.
  • The lawyer denies both counts. Then Sheriff Quinn shows him one of the photos. Of him. Awkward.
  • Sheriff Quinn does the goodly thing and burns all of the pictures. He tells the lawyer to get hold of all of the men in the photos and let them know that their dirty laundry won't be aired to the world.
  • The sheriff's next order of business is to go to the Trask's house. He breaks the news about Kate's death to Adam, and shows him the will.
  • He also tells him that Kate had over a hundred thousand dollars in her safe-deposit boxes.
  • Adam has no idea what to do, because he never told Aron that Kate was his mother. Well, says Sheriff Quinn, it's high time that he did.
  • Only problem is that no one has seen Aron for two days.
  • Adam seems dazed and confused by this news. He calls Sheriff Quinn "George" when he leaves.
  • Afterward, Lee reads The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, which he stole from Samuel Hamilton.


  • Cal is in his room, still reeling from the drinking-binge he went on after going to Kate's with Aron. After coming out of the brothel, Aron had punched Cal and run off wailing.
  • Cal spent the next day in an alley vomiting up whiskey. Gross.
  • He goes to get the wad of bills and burns them one by one, and Lee comes in just as he's is finishing. They have a talk about Cal's meanness and why he did the things he did. Lee also tells Cal about Kate's suicide.
  • Basically, Lee tells Cal to get over himself—he's just like everybody else, no better, and no worse.
  • Lee finds Adam in the hallway leaning against the wall. He had a fainting fit in the post office, and he has a letter with him that he can't seem to recall reading.
  • Lee takes the letter. It's from Aron, telling his father that he has joined the army.