East of Eden Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What role does Lee play in East of Eden?

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Lee is Adam’s Chinese servant towards the beginning of the novel, but eventually he becomes first Samuel’s friend, then Adam’s, then Adam’s boys’ nanny and god parent, as he stays with the family and raises the boys.  When we first see Lee, he speaks a barely understandable pidgin, until Samuel questions him about it.  Lee explains that his ignorant, immigrant impersonation is designed for “more than self-protection.  Mostly we [Chinese-Americans] have to use it to be...

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