steinbeck, nature vs nurture, good vs evil, agency, choices
In his epic novel East of Eden, John Steinbeck explores the ideas of agency and morality. He presents the idea of timshel, or “thou mayest,” to show that every person makes their own choices. He expands on this idea by evaluating the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture throughout the novel as the characters interact with their “nurtures” or environments and respond based on their natural personalities. Steinbeck shows that our choices are our own, but they are influenced more by our natures than our nurtures. This is seen poignantly in his characters Cathy Ames and Caleb (“Cal”) Trask as they battle against a natural evil within themselves, often with the encouragement of those who are closest to them. Their responses determine the kind of people they chose to become.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Smith, Courtney, ""Man's Greatness": Steinbeck's Evaluation of Nature and Nurture in his Epic Novel East of Eden" (2016). Student Works. 154.
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