Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 6

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 6

1

  • Now we head back to Connecticut, where Charles brags about taking a wife. The thing is, though, he's really shy when it comes to ladies and so he prefers prostitutes.
  • Fortunately for him, the town has some rooms above the inn where the girls change every two weeks. The whoremaster is a particularly harsh man named Mr. Edwards.
  • Charles lives alone and his house gets dirtier and dirtier; all he does is work the farm.
  • One day while he's out digging up rocks, his bar slips and crashes into his forehead, leaving him with a long dark scar and a new sense of self-consciousness.

2

  • Adam is discharged from the army in 1885, but he doesn't really know what to do with himself. He heads over to Niagara Falls, talks with a bartender one night and stays in a cheap boarding house, and knows that he can't go home. So he goes back to Chicago and re-enlists.
  • But somebody in Washington gets wind of his re-enlistment and he is summoned to the capital, where he finds Cyrus waiting for him.
  • Everyone treats Cyrus like he's this amazing guy, and Adam just can't understand why no one else sees through him.
  • Cyrus tries to do the whole Intimidating Father act to stop Adam from re-enlisting, but Adam sees right through it: he knows that Cyrus is using threats to defend himself and that really he is a lonely old man.

3

  • Charles, meanwhile, is all excited for Adam to return—he even takes the liberty of hiring an old woman to clean the whole house. But Adam never even writes, and Charles learns through Cyrus that Adam re-enlisted.
  • A year later Charles finally hears from Adam, but their letters to each other are distant now.
  • Charles starts keeping one woman after another, though he doesn't care about any of them. He also pretty much isolates himself from the village. Despite his lifestyle though, his farm is run really well.