East of Eden Chapter 21
by John Steinbeck

Start Your Free Trial

Download East of Eden Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 21

Kate continues her subtle planting of ideas about Faye’s failing health. The staff begins to believe that she is in decline, but more importantly, Faye begins to believe it as well. Kate says she is going to town to get more pills from the doctor. When she arrives at Dr. Wilde’s office, the doctor is not in but his door is open. Kate lets herself in and helps herself to his supply of pills. The unknowing doctor gives her even more. Back at the house, Faye announces to the other girls that she has “taken Kate as (her) daughter.” Knowing this declaration could lead to jealousy, Kate begins making targeted efforts to keep the girls happy. She makes a point of complimenting the girls and leaving little gifts for them. Back at the house, Kate plays on Faye’s love by telling her that they should plan an exotic vacation. Faye continues to feel poorly. Kate has been feeding her toxic beverages. To make Faye’s sudden downturn look less suspicious, Kate ingests some of the stomach-churning “nux vomica” potion herself. The doctor is called. He asks what they had eaten. Kate claims that they had eaten some canned string beans. The doctor declares that they have botulism from improper canning. He gives them some tonic and leaves. Later, Kate cajoles Faye into taking some of her “medicine.” Faye dies during the night and Kate pretends great sorrow, so much so that she had to be reminded about the will.