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East of Eden Analysis

Updated on September 27, 2010

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Character Analysis of Cathy:


     In East of Eden, Steinbeck suggests that there is a struggle between the forces of good and bad in the world and through evilness, deception and, selfishness, the bad usually prevails.

     Cathy is evil because of her deceptive and harmful actions to nearly every character in the novel. At one instance, as Adam attempts to prevent Cathy from leaving him, she nearly kills the poor man. “She shot him…and he staggered back and fell to the floor. She moved slowly to him, cautiously, as she might toward a wounded animal. He stared up into her eyes, which inspected him impersonally. She tossed the pistol on the floor beside him and walked out of the house” (Steinbeck 202). Her heartless decision to shoot the man who truly loves her reveals her insentient intentions: to use others as puppets for her own entertainment and benefit, and to throw them away when she is finished. After shooting Adam, she inspects him “impersonally” as he struggles to comprehend what has just happened. She then “tossed the gun on the floor”, which depicts her careless attitude and “walked out of the house” leaving the impressing that Cathy truly hold absolutely no feelings or compassion towards Adam. Rather than preserving her sweet and dainty image, Cathy decides to express her true macabre self.

    Cathy is deceptive because she learns at a young age how to manipulate and control people. When Adam finally works up the courage to visit Cathy in the brothel, Cathy admits to her ambiguous past. “I could always make people do what I wanted…I remember how they talked, ‘Isn’t she a pretty little thing, so sweet, so dainty?’ And no one ever knew me. I made them jump through hoops, and they never knew it” (Steinbeck 319). Cathy is able to twist and bend people at her own will without them even noticing. She has them “jump through hoops” while they believe she is “a pretty little thing, so sweet, so dainty”. Deceiving and beguiling the characters in the book seems to be a game to Cathy, where she can be in control of almost anyone at anytime. By stating, “And no one ever knew me” Cathy clearly says that she has formed a fake, innocent image of herself and that no one has truly comprehended her motives and purpose.


     Cathy exemplifies selfishness throughout the course of the novel by deceiving people for her own benefit and on her account. The narrator believes that monsters exist in humans like Cathy and he displays her egocentric personality: “Cathy’s lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit, usually at the expense of others” (Steinbeck 74). The narrator uses the convictive phrase, “never innocent”. Cathy always had an interior motive for misleading and taking advantage of people. She would only do something if it benefited her, whether it was to “escape punishment, work, or responsibility”, or to gain money and power. Ultimately, her lies and deceit were “used for profit…at the expense of others”, which clearly illustrates her selfish attitude.


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      lance 5 years ago

      As majority of the people are struggling be it in family, workplace, in public or private places, rich or poor. Everyone is facing daily challenges as how we percieved each occurences would depend how we view and make choices.A beautiful story and Steinbeck made it clear that every desire is decided by every person and that can be conquered.Be it good or evil. It's what TIMSHEL to us.

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      baba chingchong 6 years ago

      i absolutely love this book, steinbeck has to be really creative to make this book, takes a lot of creativity

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      Lancer_2013 6 years ago

      It really was a great book! Thanks for commenting!

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      shayamaya 7 years ago


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      Susan Keeping 7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      This is definitely my favorite Steinbeck work. It also made a good movie :)