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asked, “Do you know where your brother is?”
I don’t,” said Cal. . . .
“He hasn’t been
home for two nights. Where is he?”
I know?” said Cal. “Am I supposed to look after him?”
This exchange between Adam and Cal,
which appears in Chapter 51, is a direct
parallel with the exchange between God and Cain that appears in
the book of Genesis in the Bible. After Cain murders Abel, God realizes
that Abel is missing and asks Cain where Abel is. Cain retorts,
“I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” Adam and Cal’s reenactment
of this conversation links them explicitly to the biblical story
and cements Cal and Aron, respectively, as surrogates for Cain and
Abel. There are differences between the two stories, however: whereas
Cain murders Abel, Cal causes Aron’s death only indirectly. Likewise,
whereas Cain is banished for his crime, Cal encounters forgiveness
and redemption in his father’s blessing at the end of East
of Eden. In this way, Cal, though a Cain figure, overturns
the biblical story and, in the end, demonstrates that he has the power
to choose good.
Ace your assignments with our guide to East of Eden!