East of Eden

John Steinbeck
Characters

Samuel Hamilton

Characters Samuel Hamilton

As the gentle, selfless patriarch of the Hamilton family, Samuel stands in sharp contrast to Cyrus, the dishonest patriarch of the Trask family. Whereas Cyrus introduces a legacy of sin into his family by passing down a stolen inheritance, the good-natured Samuel—who, notably, never is wealthy—passes down an inheritance of close familial love and devotion. Like the biblical Samuel, who was a prophet, Samuel Hamilton displays intuition and foresight and often tells Adam Trask truths that are difficult to hear. Samuel sees through Cathy immediately and is chilled by her inhumanity and Adam’s ignorance of it. After the twins are born and Cathy flees, Samuel counsels Adam and helps him overcome his melancholy. Although Samuel is not a violent man, he reluctantly resorts to force in order to jolt Adam out of his stupor and to convince Adam to give the boys names, which they go without for more than a year. Later, shortly before he dies of old age, Samuel tells Adam the difficult truth that Cathy is still living in Salinas and working at a brothel. Although this revelation causes Adam pain, it ultimately enables him to confront the reality of Cathy’s evil and escape from her power.