East of Eden Chapter 44
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 44

Aron has left for college. In his absence, Abra gets to know the rest of the Trask family much better. She soon discovers a great affection for Lee and an innate trust for Adam, but of Cal she is unsure. 

Aron writes frequently from Stanford University. He is lonely and longing for Abra. From afar, his tone takes on a passion for her that was quite absent in real life. His imaginary relationship with Abra becomes Aron's obsession. 

Abra and Lee develop a close and real friendship. There is nothing Abra cannot discuss with the older man. She finds that she only wants to tell him "true things," even if she is not exactly sure what constitutes "truth."

One of the truths she arrives at and shares with Lee is that she believes the source of Aron's discontent and anger stems from not having a mother. She and Lee ruminate about the fact that not having a mother around does not seem to affect Cal as greatly. Abra decides that different people have different needs. 

As Lee and Abra prepare supper, Abra accidentally confesses that she does not want Aron to be a minister. Lee is surprised and asks her why. Abra says it is because Aron lacks balance. He fails to see nuances. He also idolizes her and his idolization makes her feel that she will never measure up to his fantasy. She can never be as "pure" as the girlfriend Aron has constructed in his mind. 

Abra also muses that because Aron did not have a mother, he created her out of every good thing he could think of. Then when Abra came along, Aron "dumped" all that goodness on her. It makes Abra uncomfortable in the extreme. She says she wants to be rid of it, even if it means that Aron no longer likes or wants her. 

The two continue to prepare dinner. Suddenly Abra voices the one question she has held back. She asks Lee if Aron's mother is still alive. Lee will not answer directly. After several long minutes of avoidance, Lee finally answers in the affirmative. 

Their conversation is interrupted by Cal bounding into the...

(The entire section is 555 words.)