East of Eden Chapter 28
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 28

The boys notice the change in their father as they sit around the dinner table. He is engaged and interested in them, a fact that makes them a bit uncomfortable. Aron tells of Abra’s rejection of his gift, and that he is disappointed because he wanted to marry her. Cal is still feeling mean. He brings up Abra’s suggestion that they go put flowers on their mother’s grave. Though it makes him uncomfortable to lie, Adam tells them it’s impossible, because the grave is back East. Changing the subject, Adam mentions the Bacons’ suggestion that the boys attend school in Salinas. Later, Lee warns Adam of telling lies or even half-truths. Reluctantly at first, Lee tells of his own family history. To pay off a disgraceful debt, his father came to America to work on the rail lines. Distraught at their pending separation, Lee’s mother smuggled herself aboard the ship dressed as a man. The two manage to live and work undiscovered until Lee’s mother becomes pregnant and goes into labor. The men, enraged at a woman in their midst and fueled by lust, beat her to death. Lee survives. The camp, ashamed at what they had done, take good care of the boy. “The whole camp became my mother,” he says. Adam decides to write to Charles, his brother whom he has not seen in twelve years. He asks for Charles to come pay a visit. Lee mails the letter and they begin the wait for his reply.