Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 55

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 55


  • Cal comes home to a house full of doctors.
  • Aforementioned doctors kindly inform Cal that Adam has had a stroke, he is almost completely paralyzed, and they don't know how long he will live. He might not even recognize Cal.
  • Cal goes into Adam's room to have a look-see at his dear old dad; Adam seems calm but unaware of anything.
  • Cal spills his guts to his father about the whole taking-your-innocent-brother-to-your-mom's-whorehouse thing, and then he hides his face so that he doesn't have to see the judgmental look in Adam's eyes.
  • The boisterous nurse comes in and shoos everybody out so that she can do her job.
  • In the kitchen, Cal tells Lee that he can't stand the look Adam gave him; in his mind, Adam called him a murderer with his eyes.
  • Fortunately Lee has read up on the subject of strokes and he reassures Cal that Adam probably doesn't even have control over his eyes.
  • Also Cal should get over himself.
  • He tells Cal to go see Abra.


  • Cal rings Abra's doorbell and when her mother answers he not-so-subtly demands to see her.
  • Abra's mom is not down with this idea, but fortunately Abra doesn't care what her mother thinks and sneaks out the back door to meet Cal.
  • Cal fills her in on the nasty details of Aron's death and Adam's stroke.
  • He also tells Abra that he's worried that he's got his mother's blood in him.
  • Well, says Abra, even if Cal's mother was a whore, Abra's father is a thief, so it all evens out.
  • Cal wants to go hang out at the willow tree that Abra and Aron used to play in, but Abra's not going to let him run away so easily; they are going back to the house.


  • Lee knew all along that Abra would get Cal to come back. Clever Lee.
  • Lee wonders about humanity inheriting the imperfections of the generation before and being re-worked. It's really abstract and Cal doesn't quite get what he's talking about.
  • It's time to go in and see Adam.
  • Lee kicks the nurse out and talks to him about whether or not he is even alert, or can understand things—Adam seems to be able to.
  • Lee tells Adam that Cal is the only part of himself that will be left after he dies, and that as a result of Adam's rejection of Cal, Aron is dead.
  • Then he tells Adam to free Cal from his guilt, and to give him his fatherly blessing.
  • Adam struggles, but he is able to lift his right hand an inch. Success—it totally counts..
  • Then Adam says the word "Timshel!" before closing his eyes, presumably forever.