Study Guide

East of Eden Good vs. Evil

By John Steinbeck

Good vs. Evil

Here is the breakdown: Story of Genesis = How Evil Enters the World. Afterward, good and evil are constantly duking it out, and in East of Eden we've got front-row seats to the fight. Sometimes, though, we don't even know which side we're rooting for. For example, why do we find Aron's innocence insufferable and root for Cal to tell him about Mommy Dearest? Why do we cheer when Cathy blasts through Adam's idealized vision of her by shooting him en route to applying for a job as a whore? Good and evil themselves might seem black and white, but how they are used is a lot more complicated.

Questions About Good vs. Evil

  1. Is Kate pure evil?
  2. Do you think the world of East of Eden is more about good versus evil than it is about shades of gray?
  3. How do good and evil fit into the story of Genesis? How is that model then applied to East of Eden?
  4. Is Cal good or evil?

Chew on This

The problem that the characters in the novel have is that they can only see the world in terms of good or evil.

East of Eden divides the world into good and evil.