Good Versus Evil in East of Eden
The idea of good versus evil is illustrated in several ways in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. This is seen through the external conflicts in the novel, the internal conflicts of the characters, and a universal understanding of the battle between good and evil.
External conflicts between the main characters, Cathy and Adam, reflect the idea of good versus evil in their relationship. Cathy, who is much like Satan, creates a huge fight between Adam and his brother Charles with her manipulations. Later, she ruins Adam's dreams and breaks his heart when she shoots him and leaves, sending Adam into a deep depression. After twelve years, Adam snaps out of his dream world and confronts Cathy. Cathy is now called Kate and works in a whore house called Faye's. Despite her actions, Adam realizes that he doesn't even hate Cathy for the hurt she has caused him. He finds peace with himself, renewing his once abandoned relationship with his sons.
Then there is the relationship between Charles and Adam. Charles physically and mentally abuses Adam to the extent that he tries to kill him when Charles thinks that their father, Cyrus, loves Adam more. Throughout all this Adam still loves Charles, even after he finds out that Charles and Cathy had slept together and his sons may have even been fathered by Charles. Later in the novel, Adam forgives Charles and writes him a letter to try and put their differences aside, only to find out that Charles has died.
Cal and Aron are Cathy's twin sons. In their relationship they too have many conflicts, Aron, the "good" son, studies religion and Cal, the "evil" son, gambles and visits whore houses. Aron tries to convert Cal, but Cal refuses to convert and, disappointed, Aron leaves Cal "to eternal damnation" (Steinbeck 886).
A more violent example of the external conflict between good and evil is the story of Lee's parents and his own birth. (Lee is Adam's Chinese servant, who really is a main character in this novel). Lee's mother dies as a result of a rape by railway workers who she had hidden her gender and later her pregnancy from. The same men who raped Lee's mother help take care of him as he grows up. The taking care of the infant Lee is seen as a light in a very dark world.
Another way the idea of good versus evil is expressed is by the internal conflicts of the characters. Cathy is good example of a character that has an inner conflict of good versus evil. Cathy, the most evil of all in this novel, kills her parents, manipulates Adam and Charles, attempts to abort her children, shoots Adam, abandons her twin sons once they are born, and murders Faye, her friend and boss. However, the good in Cathy overcomes the bad. By the end of the novel she becomes religious and...