East of Eden Chapter 37
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 37

With the dream of owning a bookstore permanently shelved, Lee settles down and makes the Trask home his own. He arranges his personal belongings as he likes. Lee then sets about spending Adam’s money to make the home as functional and decorative as his heart desires. One of his favorite new acquisitions is an icebox. All Lee’s spending makes Adam reflect that he would like to buy something as well. He first settles on a Victrola and records, but he longs for something more.

The new icebox enthralls Adam. He begins to study everything about it and purchases a book about refrigeration. He announces to Lee that he wants to go into business. Lee is not enthusiastic, pointing out that Adam has never shown a propensity for success in business matters. But Adam will not be dissuaded. He begins a series of experiments in their home icebox, convinced that food could be kept fresh if it stays cold long enough.

The idea simply will not leave Adam. Unlike his friend Sam Hamilton, who always had dozens of ideas taking shape in the fires of his mind, Adam has only this single notion. He ponders it and continues his experiments until he feels certain he has hit on a solution. He asks Sam’s son, the banker, Will Hamilton, to come over and hear his idea.

Will is accustomed to his father’s wild schemes, so he is cautious and skeptical. He advises Adam to drop it, claiming that people in the East are not used to fresh vegetables in the off seasons and will be too leery to purchase frozen ones. He points out, too, that any problems in transporting the produce might end badly, with all the vegetables spoiling when the ice melts. “Let refrigeration alone,” are Will’s final words on the subject. He tells Adam to invest in bean crops instead.

They may have been Will’s final words, but they are not Adam’s. After Will departs, Adam informs Lee that he intends to buy the local ice plant. Lee, ever practical, suggests that Adam “plant some beans too.”

Adam does purchase the ice plant. He throws all of his time, energy, and money toward making his idea...

(The entire section is 573 words.)