East of Eden Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What does the title East of Eden signify?

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The novel East of Eden is written as a parallel to the famous story of Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. The story follows a similar sort of dysfunctional family in California, both seen as an oasis and a desert, and makes many Biblical allusions and references throughout.

In the Bible story, once the characters of Adam and Eve fail to uphold God’s law by eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they are cast out of out Eden to the East. Biblically, the East is typically symbolic of sin and death, and so the sinners were cast out of paradise into the land of death. Later, after Cain murders his brother, he is sent to the land of Nod, or wandering, and is cast out further east. The novel essentially relates this dysfunctional family as they try to repair the damage in their lives and gain forgiveness for their sins, echoing the idea of the first people to sin living in the land of death near paradise.

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John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden does exist as a retelling of the story...

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