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Part Four, Chapters 51–55

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Summary: Chapter 51

Adam asked, “Do you know where your brother is?”

“No, I don’t,” said Cal. . . .

“He hasn’t been home for two nights. Where is he?”

“How do I know?” said Cal. “Am I supposed to look after him?”

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Horace Quinn, who has been promoted to sheriff, tells Adam about Cathy’s death. Adam weeps and wants to hide Cathy’s will from Aron. The sheriff convinces Adam to tell Aron, but no one seems to know where Aron is. When Adam asks Cal about Aron’s whereabouts, Cal snarls and asks, “Am I supposed to look after him?” Adam is overcome with a numb shock.

Lee looks through a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and remembers that long ago he stole the book from Samuel Hamilton, who likely knew Lee stole the book but said nothing. Lee goes to see Cal, who has been drinking heavily to cope with his guilt. Cal also has burned the $15,000 cash that his father rejected. Lee tells Cal that he needs to understand that he is simply a normal, flawed human being rather than an abstract and uncontrollable force of evil. This reminder soothes Cal’s spirit. On his way out, Lee finds Adam leaning against the wall as if in shock. In his hand is a postcard from Aron informing his father that he has joined the army.

Summary: Chapter 52

As the war takes a hard turn for American troops in Europe, Adam’s health takes a similar turn for the worse. He begins to experience numbness and pain in his hand and obsessively wonders and worries about Aron.

Cal speaks with Abra, who tells him that she no longer loves Aron, as he seems to live in a fantasy world of extreme moral contrasts. Cal tells Abra that Aron now knows the truth about Cathy, and Abra confesses that she learned about Cathy long ago. Abra tells Cal that she has fallen in love with him. Cal claims that he is not worthy of her, but Abra implies that she loves Cal precisely because of the moral struggles he undergoes.

At home, Abra’s father has withdrawn into seclusion and refuses to return phone calls from a local judge. Abra knows that her father is not sick, as her mother claims, but she is not sure what is wrong with him. Abra gathers up Aron’s love letters and burns them.

Summary: Chapter 53

One day, Adam tells Lee that he believes that the fortune his father, Cyrus, amassed was stolen from the Army. Lee contemplates the irony: the honest Adam Trask living his life on a stolen fortune, just as the good Aron Trask might live his life on a fortune made through prostitution.

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by Clarinetmast, September 06, 2012

The narrator is actually John Hamilton, the grandson of Samuel Hamilton and the son of Olive Hamilton.


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by readereaterheater, November 19, 2012

Actually, the narrator is John Steinbeck. Olive Hamilton is married to a Steinbeck and the novel often mentions the "Steinbeck House" and her husband and children. It's supposed to be an ironic little pun he puts in there.


10 out of 12 people found this helpful


by Captain_Saucy, December 19, 2012

Come on people, John Steinbeck is the narrator and Olive Hamilton is his mother. Samuel is his grandfather.


2 out of 4 people found this helpful

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