Study Guide

East of Eden Chapter 7

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 7


  • The five years that Adam spends in the army are over before he knows it. He's discharged in San Francisco and writes to Charles saying that he will be coming home… and then Charles doesn't hear from him again for three whole years.
  • In the meantime Adam lives the hobo life and wanders around the country learning the hobo ways.
  • After about a year he heads east across Texas and the South, but in Florida he is picked up for vagrancy and put on a chain gang for six months. Immediately after being released he is picked up again for another six months.
  • Three days before his release, Adam decides to split. He manages to escape, crosses into Georgia, steals some clothes from a general store, and then heads to the train station.


  • In Connecticut, the postmaster personally brings Charles a thick letter that arrived for him. Looks like Papa Cyrus is dead.
  • But as it turns out, Papa Cyrus was also rich—a lot richer than he should have been. It all smells suspicious to Charles.
  • Not long after, he receives a telegram from Adam asking him to wire one hundred dollars.


  • Adam finally shows up at home, and the two brothers fill each other in on the happenings of the past few years. But Adam knows that Charles is just itching to say something that he's not saying.
  • Meanwhile, Adam and Charles both think separately about the fact that Charles can't beat Adam up anymore.
  • Adam finally asks Charles what he's holding back, and which point Charles asks Adam if he loved their father, to which Adam responds with a definitive no. Charles admits that he did and begins to cry.
  • Next Charles asks Adam whether he thought it was possible that their father was dishonest; he spills it that their father left them a fortune.
  • Adam finds nothing weird about this, and he figures it could have been made off of speculation. But Charles has other ideas. Turns out that Cyrus wasn't at any of the battles that occurred while he was enlisted.
  • The brothers let the subject drop and instead talk about the farm, Adam's time in the army, and the prostitutes at the inn in the village. But finally they have to confront the elephant in the room.
  • Charles thinks that their father stole the money somehow, and that his entire life was based on lies about the war.
  • It's eating away at Charles because he worshipped the man, but Adam doesn't really care. In fact, Adam says that he doesn't believe that their father was a thief or a liar. He explains that maybe love for a person makes you suspicious of them, while lack of love allows you to have faith in them.
  • Adam then asks if Charles remembers trying to kill him with a hatchet the night he beat him up. Charles can't remember, and says that he must have been crazy. That, says Adam, was Charles fighting for his love.
  • The brothers decide to keep the money.