East of Eden Chapter 35
by John Steinbeck

Start Your Free Trial

Download East of Eden Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 35

Lee helps the Trasks make the move to Salinas by packing up the house, taking them to the train, and then unloading all their goods once they arrive. He makes the family as comfortable as possible then waits for Adam to notice his “coldness and formality.” Adam eventually becomes aware of his manner and asks Lee to tell him what he already strongly suspected: that Lee wants to leave the family.

Lee tries to begin a speech he had memorized, intending to say that he had served the Trasks with his utmost ability for many years, but Adam interrupts him. The formality is sloughed off and Lee must simply come out with it. Lee confesses that he must leave right away or he might not have the nerve to go. Still, he asks if Adam would like him to wait until he has found a suitable replacement. Adam declines, knowing that the time would likely never come and he does not wish to hold his friend back. Adam wonders if they should keep the news from the boys because he fears it will upset them too much. Lee disagrees; he argues that it is best to be honest with children.

When the boys are told, they take the news in stride. Adam is furious and calls them “little brutes!” but Lee is sanguine. He claims he does not want them to be sad and hopes that one day they will remember him fondly. Adam, for his part, he tells Lee he will certainly miss him. He wants to know if Lee truly intends to open a bookstore. Lee says that is the plan. Adam offers to walk Lee to the depot but Lee refuses, knowing it would be too emotionally difficult. He says good-bye to Adam and leaves quickly, barely hearing Adam’s plea to remember to write.

Later that night after a basketball game, Cal and Aron discuss Lee’s departure. Cal wonders what Lee will ever do without them, but Aron says they will...

(The entire section is 513 words.)