the settin of east of eden Essay

Submitted By Jacob-Snyder
Words: 832
Pages: 4

Snyder 1
Jacob Snyder
Ms. Morris
PreAp English 2
15th May 2014
An Analysis of the Setting in East of Eden The setting of a book or movie is not only when and where the story takes place but it demonstrates a significant amount about the motifs in a story. John Steinbeck, the author of East of Eden, was born in the Salinas Valley of California. Naturalism is a prevalent theme in his books. In East of Eden Steinbeck chooses the setting of the Salinas Valley because he uses it as a constant representation of the conflict between good and evil. The Salinas Valley is west of the San Joaquin Valley and east of Monterey Bay in central California. It follows the Salinas River northwest to its mouth at Monterey Bay. It is located between two mountain ranges, the Gabilan on the east and Santa Lucia to the west. The Santa Lucia mountains are steeper with the highest peak being Junipero Serra Peak at 5,857 feet. In fact, it has the steepest coastal incline in the lower 48 states, Cone Peak at 5,158 feet. The Gabilan mountain range has a lower peak elevation of 3,455 feet. The valley is “a trough that probably holds a great deal of water”(Nutter 336). In a state that is plagued by drought, the water supply makes the valley lush and one of the biggest produce producing areas in California. This location provides an image that is similar to that of the Garden of Eden and paradise. The title is a reminder of this and the story of Cain and Able from the bible where an evil brother kills the good brother out of jealousy. From the beginning of the book, Steinbeck describes the physical geography of the Salinas Valley to display the theme of good versus evil. He describes the “Gabilan Mountains to the east,” favorably as “light gay mountains,” that were “full of sun and loveliness and a kind of invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills.” He finds them so comforting that he describes is as “you want to climb in the lap of a beloved mother”.(Steinbeck 3). He portrays the Gabilan mountains favorably and as if there could never be anything wrong with the mountains. This joyful description implies that the eastern side of the valley is good. In her essay”The Salinas Valley:Autobiographical, Critical, and Environmental Musings on John Steinbeckand Louis Owens”, author Melody Graulich who also grew up in the area agreed with Steinbeck writing “I loved to climb the craggy coast live oaks and wondered at the name of the graceful trees of heaven”(Graulich 34). In contrast, when Steinbeck introduces the Santa Lucias he says that they “stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding – unfriendly and dangerous.” Then he says that he found himself “a dread of the west and a love of the east,” (Steinbeck 3). The dark description of the western mountains implies the evilness of the west. He does this through his impeccable choice of descriptive words with a negative connotation such as “brooding.” Steinbeck's description of the Santa Lucias shows