East of Eden

John Steinbeck

Part Three, Chapters 27–33

Summary Part Three, Chapters 27–33

Adam writes a loving letter to Charles asking him to visit California. He worries about how Charles will interpret the letter and impatiently waits for a reply.

Summary: Chapter 29

Will Hamilton arrives at the Trask house with Adam’s new car, but neither Will nor the mechanic who comes the next day seems to understand how the car works.

Summary: Chapter 30

Adam finally figures out the car and drives the boys into town in order to check his mail. In the mail is a letter from attorneys in Connecticut announcing that Charles has died and left a fortune of $100,000 to be split between Adam and Cathy.

Adam consults Lee about the inheritance, unable to understand why Charles would leave money to someone he despised. Cal eavesdrops on Adam and Lee’s conversation. Lee observes that Cathy is not likely to claim the money, but he notes that his advice is probably irrelevant because he is sure that Adam will give Cathy the money anyway.

Lee announces that he is feeling old and that he wants to go to San Francisco to open a bookstore. The overheard conversation makes Cal sad, and he prays to God to become more like Aron. Trying to be kind, Cal tells Aron that Adam plans to send a wreath to their mother’s grave. Cal gets into bed and continues to pray to God to make him better.

Summary: Chapter 31

Adam goes to see Cathy at the brothel to inform her about Charles’s death and about her share of the fortune. Cathy is skeptical about Adam’s motives for telling her about the money, for she knows full well that he could have kept it for himself and never told her. Adam confronts Cathy, telling her that she is only “part of a human” and that she simply is incapable of believing that there is any good in the world. This touches a nerve with Cathy, who shakes in rage as Adam leaves.