Psychological Concepts In Steinbeck’s East Of Eden

In Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden characters are strictly classified as moralistic or malevolent. One of the main characters, Caleb Trask faces many trials and immoral temptations. Caleb constantly grapples with the evil within him. Caleb can see the world for what it is. He is a very complicated and intelligent individual: “Cal was growing up dark-skinned, dark haired. He was quick and sure and secret. Adults were impressed with what seemed to them a precocious maturity, and they were a little frightened at it too” (Steinbeck 419). Steinbeck demonstrates Caleb’s perceptions, behavior, and emotions by embedding psychological theories and concepts in the novel. The concepts included in East of Eden are nature versus nurture, self-fulfilling prophecies, perceptions and reality.

The idea of nature versus nurture has been one of the most popular debated issues among individuals. Nature refers to what we think of as pre-wiring, influenced by genetic inheritance and biological factors. Nurture on the other hand is generally taken as the influence of external factors such as guardians. Cathy Ames and Caleb battle against a natural wickedness within themselves, most times with the encouragement of those who are closest to them the responses determine the kind of people they become. Caleb’s mother Cathy Ames did not influence Caleb’s morality because she left when he was young. Caleb’s morals are attributed to Lee his servant and his father Adam Trask. Lee attempts to have Caleb understand the complexity of nature versus nurture. Genes passed down from parents do not set an individual’s personality. Lee believes every person sets their own morality and free will. Nature and nurture both played an important role in the development of Caleb

Our perception of reality is often in the hands of the environment we live in. We formulate ideas of reality by using experience of our own as well as those of others around us. Perception acts as a lens which allows us to view reality. In the novel Caleb understands the faults in humanity and is willing to adapt to obstacles in the world. Caleb is aware of his evil nature. He knows his fault motivation and aims to be as gracious as his brother Aron: “I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to be lonely”. Unlike Aron Caleb is far more particular. Cal doesn’t give into to the realism of society.

More often than not, outcomes of the events that happen in a person’s life are the results of the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words realistic expectation plays a great role in promoting positive and negative outcomes. In East of Eden Caleb believes that he is somehow going to turn out to be like his mother Cathy because he understands some of what makes her a generally horrific person. Caleb says to Lee “I hate her because I know why she went away. I know because I’ve got her in me.” Caleb self-fulfilling prophecy comes true as he is commonly caught using manipulation for his own advantage. Cal presents his father with a money and calls it a gift. He does this as a false act of kindness to disguise the fact that he is actually buying his father's love. In response to Cal's deceitful attempts for his father's affection (Steinbeck 543). Cathy acts in the same manner. Cathy is continually using innocent beings entirely for her self-benefit. Cathy constantly portrays a like-able image to gain what is in her best interest. She uses Adam for her own self-gain, Cathy had not only made up her mind to marry Adam but she had so decided before he had asked her. She needed protection and money. And she could control him.

In conclusion, Caleb faces many challenges in East of Eden because he is a complicated individual. There are many different ways behavior, emotions, and perceptions can be explained. In the novel Caleb is developed throughout the story by using psychological contexts. Even though Caleb makes poor moral choices as he is growing up, he takes Lee’s advice in the end and recognizes the logic of the idea that each person has power to choose between the good and the evil in life. He reveals the potential to get out of inherited sin and act for good instead.  

16 December 2021
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