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East of Eden

John Steinbeck

Part Two, Chapters 18–22

Part Two, Chapters 12–17

Part Two, Chapters 18–22, page 2

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Summary: Chapter 18

Adam tells Horace Quinn, the local deputy sheriff, that he got his gunshot wound by accidentally shooting himself while cleaning his gun. Quinn, however, sees through Adam’s story immediately. Adam begins to weep when Quinn asks about Cathy. Quinn confers with the sheriff, who says that Faye, the proprietress of a local brothel, recently asked the sheriff about a runaway who closely matches Cathy’s description. Quinn and the sheriff agree to keep the news from Adam so that the twins will not know that their mother is a prostitute.

In the meantime, Samuel counsels the miserable Adam that if he acts as though he is happy and alive, eventually he will feel that way. Samuel reminds Adam that his children need his strength.

Summary: Chapter 19

The narrator says that there are three houses of prostitution in the Salinas Valley, and that the valley residents accept these houses as an essential but undiscussed part of their society. Faye’s brothel is the newest, and Cathy—now calling herself Kate—thrives there, having earned Faye’s trust to quickly become an indispensable part of Faye’s operation. When the sheriff finds Cathy, he tells her that as long as she agrees never to contact her sons, he will never make her background and her shooting of Adam a public matter. The sheriff also tells Cathy that he will never let his son come to Faye’s, for he does not want his son ever to meet Cathy.

Summary: Chapter 20

Faye is impressed by the fact that Cathy lectures the brothel’s piano player, Cotton Eye, about his opium habit. Faye tells Cathy that Cathy has become like a daughter to her. She urges Cathy to give up prostitution, but Cathy says she needs the money.

Faye invites Cathy into her room for an elaborate ceremony in which she presents Cathy with her will. The will gives all of Faye’s worldly possessions to Cathy upon Faye’s death—an incredible sum, as the brothel does very well financially. Cathy is thrilled, but when she drinks a bit of Faye’s celebratory champagne, she loses her inhibitions and begins to say cruel things to Faye. Cathy even confesses brazenly that she makes more money than Faye realizes, as she uses whips and razors and other sadomasochistic devices on her clients.

Faye screams in horror, and Cathy, panicking, gives her a drink to put her to sleep. Horrified by what she has revealed to Faye in her drunkenness, Cathy knocks Faye out with ammonia and pokes her with sharp instruments to make her believe that she is having a horrible nightmare. The other prostitutes believe that Cathy is caring tenderly for Faye, and when Faye wakes, she believes the same thing. Faye believes that everything Cathy told her during the night was part of her nightmare, and she is grateful for Cathy’s care and sweetness.

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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.


9 out of 11 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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