East of Eden Quotes about the Choices in Life

East of Eden by John Steinbeck was the fourth in a series of novels that is regarded by the author himself as a magnum opus. The book details how evil and vice are integrated human traits that no one can escape. However, the main idea of the novel is that each person has a choice. They can either embrace this side of their personality and embody it or choose to fight it and let the good side win, becoming a triumphant warrior in the process.

The East of Eden novel has inspired several adaptations including three movies by the same name and another one titled ‘Here’s Where I Belong’. The most famous of these films inspired by the book is the 1955 period drama that featured Julie Harris and James in leading roles along with Raymond Massey. The movie was James Dean’s first major screen role that propelled him to the eventual stature that he held as a revered Hollywood star.

Unique East of Eden Quotes

1.(Abra) “I was even thinking I was bad. I love you even though I’m afraid of you. Maybe someday I won’t be.”
2.(Adam Trask) “If you want to give me a present, give me a good life. That’s something I can value.”
3.(Abra) “But you must give him some sign, Mr. Trask, some sign that you love him — or he’ll never be a man. All his life he’ll feel guilty and alone unless you release him.”
4.(Cal Trask) “Hey Aron, why don’t you ask me where I’ve been?”
(Aron Trask) “Would you tell me?”
(Cal Trask) “No.”

East of Eden quotes

5.(Aron Trask) “Staying out again tonight?”
(Cal Trask) “What difference does it make? You’re here, aren’t you? You’re the one he wants.”
6.(Abra) “Mr. Trask, it’s awful not to be loved. It’s the worst thing in the world. Don’t ask me; even if you could; how I know that. I just know it. It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel. And that’s the way Cal has always felt, Mr. Trask. All his life. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way; but it’s true. You never gave him your love. You never asked for his. You never asked him for one thing.”
7.(Adam Trask) “Start at the fifth verse. Verse 5.”
(Cal Trask) “”I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.””
(Adam Trask) “Go on.”
(Cal Trask) “Six –”
(Adam Trask) “And I suggest a little slower, Cal. And you don’t have to read the verse numbers.”
(Cal Trask) “”For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee. And surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Selah.” Seven –”
(Adam Trask) “Not the numbers, Cal –”
(Cal Trask) “”Thou art my hiding place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble, thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.””
(Cal Trask) “Eight –”
(Adam Trask) “You have no repentance. You’re bad. Through and through, bad.”

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East of Eden quotes

8.(Abra) “Why is he always alone?”
(Aron Trask) “Because he wants to be.”
(Abra) “Nobody wants to be alone.”
9.(Cal Trask) “I’ve been jealous all my life. Jealous, I couldn’t even stand it. Tonight, I even tried to buy your love, but now I don’t want it anymore — I can’t use it anymore. I don’t want any kind of love anymore. It doesn’t pay off.”
10.“Man has a choice and it’s a choice that makes him a man.” – Cal Trask
11.”Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness… and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 34
12.”It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter Three.
13.”Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter Eight.
14.”The gods are fallen and all safety is gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter Three.
15.”One says the silent man is the wise man and the other that a man without words is a man without thought.” – Samuel, Chapter 13.
16.”And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.

East of Eden quotes

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17.”And this I must fight against any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.
18.”Most people don’t read the details. It’s the details that astonish me.” – Samuel, Chapter 22.
19.”This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.
20.”All great and precious things are lonely.” – Lee, Chapter 47.
21.”And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – Lee, Chapter 53.
22.”A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter Nine.
23.”Maybe we all have in us a secret pond where evil and ugly things germinate and grow strong.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.
24.”Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 14.
25.”We are the children of our father. It means we aren’t the first. It’s an excuse, and there aren’t enough excuses in the world.” – Adam, Chapter 22.
26.”People like you to be something, preferably what they are.” – Lee, Chapter 22.
27.”Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.” – Will, Chapter 23.
28.”I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart… a loving woman is almost indestructible.” – Lee, Chapter 28.
29.”Dear Lord… let me be like Aron. Don’t make me mean. I don’t want to be.” – Cal, Chapter 30.
30.”All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.
31.”Humans are caught in their lives, in their thoughts … and in their kindness and generosity too in a net of good and evil.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.
32.”But your son will live. He will marry and his children will be the only remnant left of you.” – Lee, Chapter 55.
33.”Only twice in my life have I seen eyes like that—not like human eyes. And, he thought, it’s the night and the moon.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 16.
34.”An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie.” – Samuel, Chapter 22.
35.”The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears.” – Lee, Chapter 22.
36.”I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.
37.”I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.
38.”The nation slid imperceptibly toward war, frightened and at the same time attracted.” – John Steinbeck, Chapter 41.
39.”Sometimes responsibility is worse. It doesn’t carry any pleasant egotism.” – Lee, Chapter 47.
40.”None of my children will be great either, except perhaps Tom. He’s suffering over the choice right now. It’s a painful thing to watch.” – Samuel, Chapter 22.
41.”The word timshel—‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world.” – Lee, Chapter 24.
42.”But… the choice of winning! I had never understood it or accepted it before.” – Samuel, Chapter 24.
43.”There’s more beauty in truth even if it is dreadful beauty.” – Lee, Chapter 28.
44.”I hate her because I know why she went away. I know—because I’ve got her in me.” – Cal, Chapter 38.
45.”And when they thought they could tell me what to do—oh! that’s when I fooled them best.” – Cathy, Chapter 39.

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East of Eden (1995) – Official Trailer

If you haven’t seen the East of Eden movie featuring James Dean that was loosely based on the John Steinbeck novel, here is the official trailer from the movie that became one of the most loved movies of its time. Watch the video here:


The East of Eden book and movies both teach us that it is our choices in life that define us. We can let our inner demons run wild or we can tame them to create a magical aura. It all lies within us and most importantly, we are free to choose. These East of Eden quotes offer deep messages in this regard providing inspiration and a sense of rejuvenation for those who are looking for it.

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Image Credits

Body Image 1: “James Dean and Julie Harris – ‘East of Eden'” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Body Image 2: “The Inspiration for Thou Mayest: East of Eden by John Steinbeck” by LauraGilchristEdu is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Body Image 3: “James Dean on the set of ”East Of Eden” in 1954.” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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