Study Guide

East of Eden Innocence

By John Steinbeck


By innocence we mean two things: Adam and Aron. Aron is his father's son through and through: he doesn't give two hoots for the opinion of his own father, and he is a sucker who just can't see the bad in the world. While the Cain brothers, Charles and Cal, are clever enough to know a bad egg when they see one (and not be too bothered by it) in East of Eden, the Abel brothers are horrified when they learn that the world is not as pure and pristine and good as they had made it out to be. Naïve is an appropriate word here.

Questions About Innocence

  1. Do we see Aron's innocence as something that should be preserved, or something that he should have ditched a while back?
  2. What is the relationship between sex and innocence in the novel? 
  3. What is the relationship between good (as opposed to evil) and innocence in the novel?
  4. What are the different meanings of innocent in the novel?

Chew on This

In East of Eden innocence is shown to be unsustainable.

In East of Eden the idea of innocence comes from the story of the Garden of Eden from Genesis, and it is used in similar ways.