Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 52

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 52


  • The winter of 1917-1918 was a really bad time, war-wise. In fact, things looked downright hopeless.


  • Adam's left hand starts to feel numb, and he has trouble seeing. He also has spells of dizziness.
  • Adam just can't understand why Aron left, or why he doesn't write—he's supposed to be the greatest son ever.
  • Adam wants to get his eyes checked out, but Lee confides in Cal that he thinks it's something much more serious. Too bad they didn't have WebMD at the turn of the century.
  • Lee also asks Cal why Abra has stopped coming over. Apparently she has been avoiding Cal, but Lee encourages him to get her to come.


  • Cal catches up with Abra after school. She was giving him the cold shoulder because she could tell that he was mad, but this time she's okay if he wants to carry her books home.
  • Abra shows Cal a letter that Aron sent her saying that he is unclean and unfit for her. Being the smart girl she is, she can pretty much figure out why he left.
  • She also resents Cal's implication that she's "Aron's girl."
  • Cal admits to Abra that he showed Kate to Aron. But Abra has known that Aron's mother was a whore for, like, ever (it's like Aron was the last person in Salinas to find out).
  • Abra also admits to Cal that she's physically not a little girl anymore, and that she doesn't love Aron anymore because their little childhood fantasies aren't good enough now that she's grown up. Aron never grew up and just kept living the fantasy where mothers and Abras were pure.
  • When Cal gets home he tells Lee that Abra will come over tomorrow. Mission accomplished.


  • Abra comes home to her own house, where her mother gives her the whole don't-disturb-your-father-he's-stressed-out-from-work talk.
  • Abra has no privacy in her life, and her mother plans out everything for her—including everything in her room.
  • But Abra's a sharp cookie: she knows that her father isn't really stressed out over work. He's hiding from something. She wonders if her mother has figured it out yet.
  • Abra takes Aron's letters out of the book she hides them in and burns them in the kitchen incinerator.