East of Eden – Standout Quote #2


“I’m going to make a garden so good, so beautiful, that it will be a proper place for her to live and a fitting place for her light to shine on.”

Samuel swallowed several times, and he spoke with a dry voice out of a pinched-out throat. “I can see my duty,” he said. “I can see it plainly before me if I am any kind of man, any kind of friend to you.”

“What do you mean?”

Samuel said satirically, “It’s my duty to take this thing of yours and kick it in the face, then raise it up and spread slime on it thick enough to blot out its dangerous light.” His voice grew strong with vehemence. “I should hold it up to you muck-covered and show you its dirt and danger.  I should warn you to look closer until you see how ugly it really is.  I should ask you to think of inconsistency and give you examples.  I should give you Othello’s handkerchief.  Oh, I know I should.  And I should straighten out your tangled thoughts, show you that the impulse is grey as lead and rotten as a dead cow in wet weather.  If I did my duty well, I could give you back your old life and feel good about it, and welcome you back to the musty membership in the lodge.”

“Are you joking?  Maybe I shouldn’t have told–”

“It is the duty of a friend.  I had a friend who did the duty once for me.  But I’m a false friend.  I’ll get no credit for it among my peers.  It’s a lovely thing, preserve it, and glory in it.  And I’ll dig your wells if I have to drive my rig to the black centre of the earth. I’ll squeeze water out like juice from an orange.”

They rode under the great oaks and toward the house.  Adam said, “There she is, sitting outside.”  He shouted, “Cathy, he says there’s water– lots of it.”  Aside he said excitedly, “Did you know she’s going to have a baby?

“Even at this distance she looks beautiful,” Samuel said.

This passage in particular stood out to me the other night when I read it. I feel I can relate to the thought that a real friend has a duty to stomp on the rose coloured glasses someone may have towards someone else. Bring them down to earth, and see reality. And there have been many times where I just kept my mouth shut. Makes you think.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: