What is the meaning behind the title of Steinbeck's East of Eden?

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The title of East of Eden comes directly from the Bible: "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden" (Genesis 22.4.30). It refers to the place where Cain was banished after the murder of his brother. The land of Nod is a place outside of the paradise Eden, a garden to which mankind can no longer return.

Steinbeck models Adam, Catherine, Cal, and Aron on the biblical Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. East of Eden is a retelling of this story from Genesis but in the context of the odyssey of an American family. The title reminds us that the biblical first family was forced to reside outside of paradise, but also very close to it. We see this with the Trasks, who are so close to their imagined California paradise but are subjected to the less than ideal, and in fact quite cruel, nature of humanity....

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