East of Eden

Impotency of Money in East of Eden

The plot of Steinbeck's East of Eden has the issue of money tightly woven in with the stories of most of the main characters. On the surface money seems to be accepted by the society and serves as the solution to all problems; on numerous occasions, the wealthy are able to afford the best lands and latest technologies. However, a closer look reveals that money is actually quite powerless. Often Steinbeck features the affluent characters as being dispirited with their surroundings or roles in life. As a result, through his treatment of characters in East of Eden, Steinbeck suggests that financial success cannot buy happiness and love, but can only lead to isolation from society.

Many characters try to buy love, but are unsuccessful. Cyrus, for example, creates suspicion rather than admiration from his sons. "'I think he stole the money,' Charles said miserably," upon reading Cyrus's will (69). He feels betrayed by his father whom he loves. Even Adam, who never mourned Cyrus' death but instead accepted and used his share of inheritance freely, remarks "He was a thief... He stole from the G.A.R." (582). Cyrus' wealth leaves an imprint of remorse instead of respect on his sons. Charles,...

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