[[quoteright:284:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/eastofeden.jpg]]
->'' "If you want to give me a present, give me a good life. That's something I can value." ''
-->-- '''Adam Trask'''

A 1952 novel by Creator/JohnSteinbeck, ''East of Eden'' was considered the author's most ambitious work. The Hamilton family in the novel is based off that of Steinbeck's maternal grandfather. He considered it his MagnumOpus.

The novel concerns two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, who live in the Salinas Valley, California. The Hamiltons, headed by patriarch Samuel Hamilton and wife Liza, initially settle into the valley with their nine kids. When the kids set out to seek their fortunes, the land is settled by the wealthy Adam Trask. The Trask family grows, adding a wife, Cathy, a DevilInPlainSight, and sons Cal and Aron. Just after the birth of the two sons, Cathy vanishes from their lives. Years later, the now-grown boys meet a girl named Abra, whose presence drives a wedge between the two.

The book was adapted to a 1955 film by Elia Kazan, starring James Dean in his breakout role. The film notably is a very loose adaptation, only covering the last part of the story with Aron and Cal as teenagers. This was approved by John Steinbeck. For tropes exclusive to the film, go [[Film/EastOfEden here]].

Not to be confused with ''Anime/EdenOfTheEast'' nor ''[[VideoGame/TengaiMakyou Far East of Eden aka Tengai Makyou]]''. Not related to the book ''Literature/WestOfEden'' either.

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!!Provides Examples Of:

* AdamAndOrEve: The two brothers are named Cal and Aron and their father is named Adam. The brothers' uncle is Charles, and Adam's wife is named Cathy.
* AsianSpeekeeEngrish: {{Subverted}} and {{deconstructed}}. Lee seems to be this, but is actually faking it to go along with white people's expectations.
* AliceAllusion: ''Literature/AliceInWonderland'' was Cathy's favorite book as a child. [[spoiler: She kills herself by taking poison, imagining the "Drink Me" bottle shrinking her into oblivion.]]
* AlliterativeTitle
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Subverted. Abra is initially put off by Cal's bad traits. It's not until she gets to know him that she takes an interest. She also loses interest in Aron once he starts showing that he's not as good as he seems.
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: The story revolves around this trope, but with love in the general sense: father/son and brother/brother in addition to romance.
* AlwaysIdenticalTwins: Aron and Cal look alike but they're not identical. Aron is taller and has lighter hair.
* AmbiguouslyGay: In the book, Abra seems to suspect that Aron is gay, and his disinterest in Abra does develop along with his intense admiration of the pastor, Mr. Rolf.
* ArcWords: ''[[spoiler:Timshel]]''.
* AsianSpeekeeEngrish: Thoroughly {{subverted}} and {{deconstructed}} with Lee's entire character.
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: Charles, Cal, Abra, and especially Cathy are gifted at this, reading and manipulating the people around them to frightening effect.
* BatmanGambit: Cathy has a gift for seeing people's weaknesses and the sociopathy needed to manipulate them. It's a repeated theme through the book that she'll mention an idea, it will spread and become other people's beliefs, but no one will remember it originated from her. (Ex:'s The ministed who committed suicide had trouble in Boston, they should jar their own fruits at the whorehouse, etc.)
* BerserkerTears: Discussed—one of Cal's favorite hobbies is to tease and taunt his twin brother Aron. But he always makes sure not to take it too far, for if Aron starts crying, he becomes violent and dangerous to deal with.
* BitchInSheepsClothing:
** Cathy until she inherits Faye's brothel and no longer has to hide her real personality.
** Implied to be the case with Aron. It's suggested that his image as the good son comes from years of studying his father and imitating him.
* BondageIsBad: Kate, who works at a whorehouse, starts using chains and whips and razors on her "customers." This is coming from the same lady who killed both of her parents, shot her husband, and left her twin babies after telling her husband that he should throw them in a well.
* BrokenPedestal: [[spoiler: Aron had always imagined his mother as a saint or a wholesome woman in some way. Discovering that she's actually the madam of a brothel devastates him]].
* CainAndAbel: Charles and Adam, Cal and Aron.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Abra does this to Adam [[spoiler: after he had a stroke]] for his treatment of Cal.
* ChildhoodMarriagePromise: [[spoiler:Aron and Abra]] make one. [[spoiler: It doesn't work out.]]
* ChineseLaborer: Lee, a Chinese cook and valet (also a stereotype at one time in California), has a horrible backstory about how his mother disguised herself as a man so she could live and work alongside his father on the railroad, hiding her pregnancy when it came about, until the day she gave birth. Her husband wasn't nearby to help her, and when the other workers realized there was a woman in their midst they basically gang-raped her to death.
* TheClan: two for the price of one!
* CreatorCameo: Given that the story is partly about his family, Steinbeck himself appears a few times in the book, mainly in one intercalary chapter explaining one of his Uncles. But it's most notable that he has a scene where Adam Trask shows up to his mother's house to speak with his Grandma, and they meet as John Steinbeck and his sister stand behind their mother.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: A character's mother get gangraped so brutally that she survives only long enough for someone to, quote, "claw (her son) from the mangled meat of his mother."
* CutHimselfShaving: Cathy walks out on Adam Trask and leaves him the parting gift of a bullet in the shoulder. When the sheriff questions him, he says that the gun went off while he was cleaning it. Since Adam is a cavalry officer and a really bad liar, this doesn't really fly.
* DevilInPlainSight: Cathy in her early years.
* DirectLineToTheAuthor[=/=]AutobiographicalRole: John Steinbeck himself as a young boy shows up in the novel as a minor character. Steinbeck is implied to have heard about and/or seen the events in the novel as he was growing up and simply wrote about them as an adult. The Hamiltons are indeed loosely based on author Steinbeck's own relatives but their lives are supposedly rather heavily fictionaluzed.
* ElectiveBrokenLanguage: Lee pretends to speak English in stereotypical AsianSpeekeeEngrish fashion.
* EvilTwin: Deconstructed. Cal views himself as the bad twin and is convinced he'll never be anything else. In spite of this he still tries to change this perception of himself, and it's revealed that he's only this way because he's desperate for anyone to love him. It also shows the negative effect ParentalFavouritism has by propping one twin up as good and the other as bad.
* {{Fauxreigner}}: When Lee first appears in the book, he sepaks in stereotypical YouNoTakeCandle fashion, but when a character comments he can't possibly talk like that all the time, he drops the act and speaks normally for the rest of the book.
* FilleFatale: Cathy tricks boys into tying her up and fooling around with her at the age of '''10''', only to practice her ability to manipulate people. And this is only the first in a long life of shocking deeds…
* ForTheEvulz: Apparently why Charles sleeps with Cathy on her and Adam's wedding night (even though he had been suspicious about her and warned Adam). When she tells Charles she gave Adam her painkiller-spiked tea accidentally-on-purpose, he merely laughs and says "That poor bastard."
* FunnyForeigner: Lee pretends to be one of these.
* GenerationXerox
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: Aron. In the movie, [[spoiler:he smashes his head through the window of the train, laughing maniacally at Adam as it pulls away.]]
* GoodTwin: Deconstructed as well, though not the extent of EvilTwin. Aron is only considered good because he's "just like his father" and, while he shows kindness at various points, it's hinted that [[BeneathTheMask his image is all an act to win his father's approval]] (and outright confirmed in a deleted scene from the film).
* HeroesWantRedheads: Abra is a redhead and has romantic attachments with both brothers.
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Played straight with Faye (and others, to a lesser extent), but subverted with [[spoiler:Cathy]], who pretends to be one.
* JacobAndEsau: The story relies heavily on the Cain/Abel, Jacob/Esau motif throughout its entirety. There are two sets of brothers: Adam and Charles and then Aron and Cal (sons of Adam and a crazy maniacal whore named Cathy). Adam and Aron = Jacob/Abel, Charles and Cal = Esau/Cain. Adam and Aron are good boys who take after their dads. Charles and Cal are more...unstable and tend to flirt with evil, taking after their mothers.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: From Genesis 4:16.
* MajoredInWesternHypocrisy: Subverted and dissected. Lee is a graduate of UC Berkeley and a California native speaking fluent English, although he plays the role of an AsianSpeekeeEngrish much of the time. However, he is firm in belief that he is ultimately an American, not a Chinese, having found himself to be even more of stranger in China than in United States.
* MeaningfulName: Naming the boys Caleb and Aaron was after the Bible characters. In a counterpoint to the Cain and Abel sequence, it was Caleb and not Aaron who lived to reach the Promised Land, but because Caleb was one who hadn't sinned.
* MissKitty: Cathy kills her mentor, who is one of these, and then takes over her brothel and becomes a completely vicious version of this trope.
* NotListeningToMeAreYou: As Sam reads Adam and Cathy a story, he throws in some nonsense lines. They fail to listen to them.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Lee, the Pidgin speaking Chinese cook, is actually the smartest character in the whole story.
* ParentalFavoritism: Cyrus prefers Adam over Charles - even though Charles loved his father while Adam did not. Adam [[spoiler:prefers Aron]].
* PlayingBothSides: Caleb takes part with his businessman friend Will in war profiteering, buying beans for two cents a pound over fair market value, establishing a monopoly, then selling those beans for more than ten cents a pound over market value several weeks later in the heat of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
* RomanAClef: The Hamilton sections are based heavily on Steinbeck's maternal family history.
* SelfMadeOrphan: [[spoiler:Cathy, in one of the most chilling scenes in the book.]]
* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: Adam and Charles (who are actually described as having a relationship more similar to that of a sister and a brother), Aron and Cal.
* ShoutOut: The title is taken from [[Literature/TheBible The Book of Genesis]]: "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and took up residence in the Land of Nod, east of Eden."
* SiblingTriangle: [[spoiler:Cathy marries Adam, but sleeps with his brother Charles]]. Later, [[spoiler: Aron's girlfriend Abra transfers her affections to Cal]].
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism:
** Members of the Hamilton clan. Sam is a WideEyedIdealist, while Liza is a cynic. Of their children, Tom is another WideEyedIdealist with "ideas coming out of his ears," even more so than his father, while Will is a cynic who "never had any ideas" and thus "the only one in the family who made any money." Others fall somewhere between Tom and Will. [[AuthorTract John loves his Uncle Tom but he doesn't seem to like Uncle Will much.]]
** The Cal and Aron mirror Will and Tom to an extent. Will and Cal work well together, being both practical and business-minded. Both Aron and Tom wind up as DoomedMoralVictor of sorts.
* TheSociopath: Cathy. She's a consummate liar and a master manipulator, she's completely self-centered and has no empathy or shame. The narrator claims that she was simply born this way; some children are born without arms, while Cathy was born without a conscience.
* SonOfAWhore: [[spoiler:Cal and Aron.]]
* SparedByTheAdaptation: [[spoiler: Aron is definitely killed in World War I in the book, and that is what causes Adam's stroke. The film shows the stroke happening as he enlists, and his fate is left ambiguous. Kate likewise commits suicide in the book but her fate is never said in the film. To a lesser extent, Adam is definitely dying by the end of the novel, but appears to be recovering from his stroke by the end of the film]].
* StrangerInAFamiliarLand: Deconstructed. Seeing Lee's struggles in trying to fit in, Sam Hamilton suggests perhaps he might go " back" to China. Lee reminds him that he was born in Grass Valley, CA, grew up in California, and went to University of California, and he DID try going to China, only to find that he fit in less there than he did in the States because things changed so much since his father's time.
* SurprisinglyGoodEnglish: Lee speaks perfect Engrish when he's first hired, but that soon is revealed to be a ruse; Lee speaks perfectly good English, but he found it ran so counter to people's preconceptions that the only way he could be accepted in American society was to conform to the stereotype.
* ThemeInitials: This is a Cain and Abel story where the brothers are named Caleb and Aaron, with their father and uncle respectively named Adam and Charles. Also, Adam's wife is named Cathy.
* ThemeTwinNaming: The story book depicts the relationship with two brothers (not twins) named Charles and [[AdamAndOrEve Adam]]. When Adam's twin sons are born, he considers actually naming them Cain and Abel, but a neighbor tells him [[WhatDidYouExpectWhenYouNamedIt that would be asking for trouble]]. He goes with [[ThemeInitials Caleb (Cal) and Aaron (Aron)]] instead. Of course, the relationship repeats anyway.
* TheTriadsAndTheTongs: The YellowPeril variant is referenced, and averted when Lee tells Adam and Samuel about going for help to his "family association".
-->'''Samuel:''' "I have heard of them."\\
'''Lee:''' "You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong war over slave girl? It's a little different from that, really."
** How different? Well, it turns out that Lee and his Tong leaders have been studying ancient Hebrew in order to analyse a single word in Literature/TheBible.
* TroubledButCute: Cal is an antisocial loner who believes himself to be the EvilTwin in comparison to his well-behaved brother Aron. Despite his oddness and mean-spirited attitude on occasion, all he wants is love from his father. This is reflected in Abra's attitude towards him; she at first finds him creepy, but then gets to spend time with him and sees he's NotSoDifferent. Also, being played by James Dean helps a lot.
* TwiceToldTale: The tale of Cain and Abel. Repeatedly.
* TheUnfavorite: Charles and [[spoiler:Cal]].
* VillainsOutShopping: Cathy goes to church to see her son be an altar boy, and reads ''Alice in Wonderland''.
* WalkingTheEarth: Adam walks the earth for several years after leaving the Army-he doesn't have much want or need to return home.
* WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove: Cathy spends most of her life thinking of herself as superior to everyone else because she's so much smarter and prettier. After meeting Caleb, she realizes that none of that matters because everyone else around her can do ''something'' that she can't do. She never quite figures out what that thing is, but she still senses that nothing else is worth taking pride in without this one undefinable ability. [[AlasPoorVillain She ends up killing herself because even though she can't figure out what it is she can't do, she still understands that it's the only thing that makes life worth living.]]
* WellDoneSonGuy: Cyrus to Charles, and later, [[spoiler: Adam to Cal]].
* YouNoTakeCandle: Lee speaks "Chinee" until a white man observes how very odd it is that no one Chinese ever speaks good English, whereupon he reveals it's intentional, for those who expect it. He was in fact born in the United States and has lived his entire life there. He only reveals his true fluency and personality to people he trusts. He switches to standard English with his employer while the employer is suffering HeroicBSOD.
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