Essay, Research Paper: East Of Eden

Literature: Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck’s epic tale, East of Eden, is portrayed very accurately in Elia
Kazan’s film adaptation of the novel. Though the screen adaptation of East of
Eden is an excellent portrayal, one of the most probable reasons for deleting
sections of the book were constraints of time and money. Apparently the
director’s choices to delete certain sections of the book obviously did not
affect the movie or the book’s plot line too greatly. The director most
probably felt that the backgrounds of Adam or Kate were not necessary since in
this movie the main theme circulated around Cal and Aron’s fight to win their
father’s love and attention. Elia Kazan probably also felt that the role of
Lee, Samuel Hamilton, and other supporting characters were not essential to the
screenplay. I do think that the director should have added a little insight and
background to Adam’s family such as his feeling of respect and not love toward
his father Cyrus and, like his own son’s situation, his brother, Charles’,
jealousy over his father’s affection. The last moments of the movie sum up and
bring all the emotional conflicts of this dysfunctional family to a heads in
climatic and dramatic fashion. Cal believes that he will finally aquire the
love, appreciation and respect that he has craved for from his father, through
his gift of money. His father’s rejection only serves to convince him that
further attempts to gain his father’s approval are futile and that he truly
must be evil as everyone suspects. His brother’s rejection confirms his
decision and he reacts by revealing his mother’s identity to his brother Aron.
Aron subsequently enlists in the armed forces and is killed in Europe. Crushed
by his favorite son’s death, Adam suffers a stroke and is rendered comatose.
In this passive state Cal is finally free to care for his father without fear of
rejection. As in most cases a movie adaptation of a novel is never really as
good as the book, especially a book that is considered an epic and written by an
author with such a high caliber as Steinbeck, but this is one of the few
examples where there is an excellent effort and portrayal of all of the
characters and of the central theme of the book. Supporting characters such as
Lee, Sam Hamilton, Charles, and other background information would only have
enhanced the film but were not essential.
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