East of Eden is the story of the Trask and Hamilton families, both of whom live primarily in the Salinas Valley region of California. The families are interwoven and experience intense dysfunction over a period ranging from the turn of the century to the end of the First World War. It deals with themes of family, forgiveness, peace, and redemption. It also spends a great deal of time considering the devastation caused by the War.

Summary of East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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East of Eden Chapter Summaries (Free)

1SparkNotes

Review: The most popular website for book notes. SparkNotes was created by students for students, and their summaries are accessible and extremely well-written. Besides the usual plot overview, chapter summaries, and character analysis, SparkNotes differentiates itself with a section discussing themes, motifs, and symbols.

2Pink Monkey

Review: Their chapter summaries aren't as good as other providers, but PinkMonkey often has interesting insights that aren't mentioned elsewhere on the Internet. For example, they go over literary elements (like setting, conflict, and mood), compare and contrast, and symbolism/motifs. It's a good site if you want to find a unique fact or angle that other students don't know about.

3GradeSaver

Review: You won't get any frills with GradeSaver -- just the content you expect. Their study guides include a full plot summary, themes and character analysis, study questions, and the e-text of the book. One hidden gem is their collection of literature essays, but you'll have to pay for it.

4Novel Guide

Review: This provider offers quality content and all of the sections you'd expect in a study guide, like quotes, chapter by chapter summary, theme analysis, author biography, and even metaphor analysis. However, the main downside is that the website is not well-formatted and the text can be difficult to read.

5Summary Central

Review: Use this website only if you're extremely pressed for time, like the morning of an exam. They offer a very short plot overview and a list of characters and quotes. However, you won't find much analysis or even a chapter summary.