believe that there is one story in the world, and only
one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts,
in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and
in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil.
. . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the
dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean
questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?
In Chapter 34 of East
of Eden, the narrator discusses his view that the one central
narrative in human history is the endless struggle between good
and evil. He believes that this recurring conflict is so important
to human history that there essentially “is no other story.” Each
individual, regardless of what his or her ancestors have learned,
struggles with the same fundamental problem of evil. In this way,
no progress is made as generations pass, for each individual faces
the same ancient struggle and the same ancient choices. Although
the narrator’s idea is somewhat optimistic in that it implies that
each individual has free will to reject evil, it also implies that
the struggle with evil is endless and inescapable and will therefore
always be a part of the human condition.