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The Hamilton family in the novel is said to be based on the real-life family of Samuel Hamilton, Steinbeck's maternal grandfather.
Later, he wires Charles for $100 to pay for his travels home.
Adam later sends money to the store to pay for the clothes and damage.
Adam and Charles's father, Cyrus, was a Union Civil War veteran who was wounded in his very first battle and unable (or perhaps unwilling) to return to service; he nonetheless becomes an expert "armchair general" who uses his intellectual knowledge of military affairs and wounded-veteran status to become a military adviser in Washington, D. As a young man, Adam spent his time first in the military and then wandering the country.
He was caught for vagrancy, escaped from a chain gang, and burgled a store for clothing to use as a disguise.
The novel was originally addressed to Steinbeck's young sons, Thom and John (then 6½ and 4½ years old, respectively).
Steinbeck wanted to describe the Salinas Valley for them in detail: the sights, sounds, smells, and colors.However, unbeknownst to Adam, Cathy seduces Charles at the time of her marriage and falls pregnant with twins, leaving open the question of whether Adam or Charles is the twins' father.She attempts and fails at a primitive abortion with a knitting needle.After Adam finally makes his way home to their farm, Charles reveals that Cyrus had died and left them an inheritance of ,000 each.Charles is torn with fear that Cyrus did not come by the money honestly.In the beginning of East of Eden, before introducing his characters, Steinbeck carefully establishes the setting with a description of the Salinas Valley in Central California.Then he outlines the story of the warmhearted inventor and farmer Samuel Hamilton and his wife Liza, immigrants from Ireland.Lee tells about how his relatives in San Francisco, a group of Chinese scholars, spent two years studying Hebrew so they might discover what the moral of the Cain and Abel story actually was.Their discovery that the Hebrew word "Timshel" means "thou mayest" becomes an important symbol in the novel, meaning that mankind is neither compelled to pursue sainthood nor doomed to sin, but rather has the power to choose.Meanwhile, Cathy has become a prostitute at the most respectable brothel in the city of Salinas.She renames herself "Kate Albey" and embarks on a devious – and successful – plan to ingratiate herself with the madam, murder her, and inherit the business.