East of Eden Chapter 26
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 26

Adam is surprised to find that despite Samuel’s funeral and visit to Kate that he is feeling pretty good. He stops in to visit Will Hamilton to offer his condolences and to purchase his first automobile. He pays for the car in cash, a fact that impresses Will. The country had just begun to accept both credit and debt as a way of life; such a thing was shameful in older days. Times were changing. Life was changing on a personal level for Adam as well. Like the springtime wildflowers he observes on his ride home, Adam too is awakening from a cold winter of the soul. Now that he has purged the dream Cathy, he is able to pursue a life in the real world. “I’m free, she’s gone,” he chanted aloud. Adam tells Lee about his visit to Cathy. Lee is not surprised. Adam studies Lee’s face and realizes Lee has aged. Lee confesses some personal things to Adam and dreams he has not been able to achieve because he has spent the last dozen years being both mother and father to the boys. Lee tells about the wife he had created in his mind to comfort and keep him company. He tells Adam about the bookstore in Chinatown he hopes to still be able to open. Adam is surprised. He had never considered Lee might leave them. But, he understands the man’s needs. He asks Lee to help him get his affairs in order before he goes.