East of Eden Chapter 33
by John Steinbeck

Start Your Free Trial

Download East of Eden Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 33

Tom works hard on the ranch to make a home. Dessie wants to be happy but the pain keeps returning. She begins to worry about how Tom would survive without her. Dessie, perhaps in an attempt to show Tom that more of the world exists beyond the Valley, tries to get Tom to agree to travel the world with her. She proposes that they both work hard for a year and save as much they can; Tom agrees and even has a plan to raise the traveling money. Tom is depressed because he has to go to Will for start-up money. Will says he’ll have to “think about it,” grumbling that the idea is unsound though he will not specifically identify his objections. Tom worries about how to tell Dessie the bad news. She does not run out to greet him. Tom soon discovers the reason. She has had another attack and is lying on the sofa. He treats her as best he can. In the morning, Dessie is dead. Tom feels responsible for Dessie’s death. He regrets not knowing what to do medically for his sister (the doctor has told him he did exactly the wrong things in his attempts to help.) He goes over and over their last few days together, wondering what clues he may have missed. Tom decides he cannot live with this weight. He writes a letter to Will, asking him to please tell their mother he has died in a horse accident. Tom shoots himself in the head.