Lean on Me
Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on when they are going through a rough time. John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden tells the incredible journey of two families, the Hamiltons and the Trasks. They try to survive through everyday challenges, and not so every day problems. When Adam Trask is faced with his obstacles he does not understand the necessity of a strong foundation until his support system comes to him. His wife, Cathy, is an estranged woman who suffers from being a very dark and evil person. After she makes Adam fall for her, she does evil things. She tries to abort her pregnancy without Adam’s knowledge. When the children are finally born she tell Adam she wants to leave. Adam tries to stop her but she shots him in the shoulder and leaves him for dead. He definitely needs a firm support system to lean on during the majority of his life because he lives a life of hardships, many of which are caused by Cathy. His two main helping hands are, Samuel Hamilton and, Lee. Although these are two very different men, they are both there for Adam when he was at his lowest. Samuel and Lee are similar in their relationship with Adam because they help him with the boys, they help him understand the importance of honesty, and are wise in their advice to him.
Samuel and Lee are there for Adam when his despair causes him to neglect his duties as a dad. While Adam lives in a fantasy world, reality is crumbling around him. His twin boys at only three months old are suffering helplessly. Lee is there for the children when Adam wasn’t. He raises the boys for the majority of their lives, and is an extremely big part of their lives. They understand how much he loved them. At one point in the story Cal and Aron even make a bet on how long it will take him to return after he leaves to pursue his dream. Aron tells Cal, “’He’ll come back,’ said Aron. ‘He’ll get lonesome for us. You’ll see.’ “Bet you ten cents he don’t.’ ‘Before when?’ ‘Before forever.’ ‘That’s a bet,’ said Aron” (416). When Aron wins the bet about a month later it truly shows that despite Lee’s longing for a bookstore, his unwavering love for Cal and Aron trumps his dream. Even though Samuel is not alive very long in the boy’s lives, he is alive for most of Adam’s dilemmas. Aftera year and three months on this earth the boys still do not have names. Despite his wife’s scolding Samuel knows that he must intervene. He even goes to the extent of beating Adam up to wake him from his unrealistic world. He scolds Adam for feeling sorry about himself and not worrying about the children when he says, “And you have left them fatherless. Can’t you feel the cold at night of a lone child? What warm is there, what bird son, what possible morning can be good? Don’t you remember, Adam, how it was, even a little?” (257). This quote shows that Samuel cares enough for Adam to wake him up to the reality around him. He brings up a sensitive subject when he takes Adam back to his days as a boy with a neglegant father, but he is not taking it easy on Adam because he knows that Adam is strong, even if no one else believes he is. Lee and Samuel also help Adam name the boys Caleb and Aaron. Not only do Lee and Samuel help with the boys, but they also help with Adam’s troubles with honesty about the boys’ mother. Samuel and Lee’s response to the boys emphasizes their similar relationships with Adam.
Samuel and Lee see the real Cathy while Adam’s utopist picture of Cathy is seen only by him. Samuel could see the true demon inside her, and understand that she is hurting him. He knows Adam will be hurt by the truth, but Samuel also knows that seeing her would open his eyes to the true Cathy. He says, “Adam, Cathy is in Salinas. She owns a whorehouse, the most vicious and depraved in this whole end of the country. The evil and ugly, the distorted and slimy, the worst things humans can think up are for sale there. The crippled and crooked come there for satisfaction. But it is worse than that. Cathy, and now she is called Kate, takes the fresh and young and beautiful and so maims them that they can never be whole again. Now, there’s your medicine. Let’s see what it does to you” (304). This quote exemplifies Samuel’s genuine caring instinct toward Adam because he knows that the truth would be better said. Even though this is a very brutal and almost harsh statement to make about someone Adam cares about so dearly, Samuel understands it is his medicine. Lee was there when Samuel told this to Adam and was surprised that Samuel had said it. However, he was not disappointed it had been said because he, himself felt that Cathy’s true colors needed to be shown to Adam because the truth is always better heard. He said, “It’s the lie I’m thinking of. It might infect everything. If they ever found out you’d lied to them about this, the true things would suffer. They wouldn’t believe anything then” (352). This quote shows how Lee knows that Adam must tell the truth even though the boys maybe upset. He knows the truth is better heard then hidden away. Because these two men have been such a dependable alliance for Adam, it’s no wonder that he comes to them for advice.
Samuel and Lee are wise men who Adam goes to for advice. Most of Lee’s advice to Adam was often very philosophical and somewhat hard to interpret the main message of. This can be because of his Chinese way of thinking. Although Adam may not always understand the direct meaning of Lee’s advice, he does understand the final advice Lee gave him. Lee told Adam for Cal’s sake, “Adam, give him your blessing. Don’t leave him with his guilt. Adam, can you hear me? Give him your blessing!” (600). This quote shows that Lee knows that Adam is going through a difficult time and needs help showing Cal how he feels. When Adam responds timshel to Cal, Lee knows that he has truly made a difference in Adam’s life but reconciling Cal and Adam before it is too late.Another piece of advice Lee gives Adam is when Adam comes to Lee for advice about Charles’s will. Lee suggests to Adam that he should take the money and give Cathy her fair part since she was included in the will. This shows how Adam comes to Lee even when the situation is very serious and involves money and Cathy. Samuel, also, is compassionate toward Adam and knows he needs advice. Samuel tells Adam, “You’re going to pass something down no matter what you do or if you do nothing. Even if you let yourself go fallow, the weeds will grow and the brambles. Something will grow” (213). This quote inspires Adam to not just be an uncaring father to his children because no matter what he does they will learn something from him, whether it’s good or bad. Adam realizes, from this advice, that he must turn his life around for the better. Adam has truly been changed because of these two men. Whether it was their advice or their guiding hand Lee and Samuel have established a relationship to last a lifetime with Adam.
Adam can truly say that Samuel and Lee are two definite influences on him. He knows that they will be there for him no matter what. Even as Adam lies on his death bed Lee and Samuel are there for him. Lee is there supporting him with Cal, while Samuel is there in spirit waiting for him to join him in heaven. Without these two helping hands Adam would have missed out on many amazing things and not enjoyed his life. These two men have helped Adam with his children, his wife, and his need for advice during his life. Adam is a more genuine, free man who can be happy.