And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.

Here, in Chapter 13, in another aside to the story, the narrator sets for his belief that the power of free will in the human mind is the most precious of human capabilities. He declares his intention to fight against any force—ideological, religious, political, or otherwise—that threatens to hinder or constrain this freedom of the individual. In highlighting the importance of free choice early in the novel, the narrator foreshadows the idea of timshel, or freedom to choose between good and evil, that becomes the main idea in East of Eden. Although Cal and other characters struggle with the problem of evil throughout the rest of the novel, the narrator plants a seed of hope early, in these words.