“Do you remember later? You came back with a hatchet to kill me.” “I don’t remember very well. I must have been crazy.” “I didn’t know then, but I know now—you were fighting for your love.” 

In Chapter 7, Section 3, Charles and Adam argue over whether or not their father’s mysteriously earned money makes him a thief. This quotation comes from the very end of the chapter and emphasizes the idea that Charles’s love for his father was ultimately the driving force behind his violent attack on his brother. Rather than beating Adam out of jealousy, Adam suggests that Charles acted out in an attempt to defend his commitment to his father.

And once a boy has suffered rejection, he will find rejection even where it does not exist—or, worse, will draw it forth from people simply by expecting it. 

In Chapter 38, the narrator describes Cal’s struggle to connect with others in the same way that Aron does despite the fact that he desperately yearns for affection. The sense of rejection that he feels throughout his childhood has particularly significant consequences when it comes to the relationship he has with his father. While Adam does not seem to intentionally discriminate between his two sons during their childhood, being unable to replicate Aron’s charm causes Cal to begin believing that others will refuse to accept him for who he is.

Cal cried, “Why did I do it—why did I do it?” “Don’t make it complicated,” Lee said. “You know why you did it. You were mad at him, and you were mad at him because your father hurt your feelings. That’s not difficult. You were just mean.” “I guess that’s what I wonder—why I’m mean. Lee, I don’t want to be mean. Help me, Lee!”

After learning of his mother’s suicide from Lee in Chapter 51, Section 2, Cal burns the money that he made for his father and laments his decision to introduce Aron to Cathy. Lee, who often serves as the voice of reason in the Trask family, can see very clearly that Cal’s attempt to ruin his brother is a side effect of the pain that his father’s rejection caused him. This moment is the second time in which a father disregards his son’s affection, and this repetition suggests that mankind will continue to suffer from the same mistakes that Cain and Abel originally made.