Distortion in Reverie
Humans narcissistic tendency causes people to recognize their own characteristics in others the good identify the decency in those around them, while the malevolent are cynical of their surroundings. The result is mans distorted image of reality, either blatantly pessimistic or blindly optimistic. The idealistic of the two often creates a false conception so quixotic that reality can never suffice, while the negative individual, skeptical of all goodness, forms a general distrust of the world. In John Steinbecks East of Eden, both Adam and Aron Trask, blinded by their innate goodness, are unable to see or understand the flaws in others. In their naivety, they assume that all men and women are decent and good-hearted, much like themselves, and both men create idealistic versions of those around them. Likewise, the demonic and depraved Cathy Ames, assuming that all men and women share her deranged cruelty and iniquity, cannot perceive virtue and kindness in others. Adam, Aron, and Cathy, unable to recognize the qualities in others that they lack, form distorted perceptions of others based on their own disposition.
While Cathys vile nature is apparent to most, Adam, unfamiliar with evil and nave to others malice, cannot see Cathys true demonic self. I tell you, shes just a whore. I wouldnt trust her with a bit piecewhy, that bitch, that slut! Charles, stop it! Stop it, I tell you! You keep your filthy mouth shut about my wife! (161). Despite his brothers incessant warnings, Adam insists on marrying Cathy. While Charles identifies Cathys evil nature, Adam cannot grasp the idea that cruel, ill-willed humans exist. His purity and virtues result in his blind faith of humanity; having no inclination towards callousness, Adam cannot understand how or why anyone could be impure. He glanced at Adam and saw that he was looking raptly at his wife. Whatever was strange was not strange to Adam. His face had happiness on it (226). Blind to her malignity, Adam forms an unrealistic, glorified image of Cathy; he sees only a beautiful, kind-hearted young woman. Adams lack of depravity makes him completely ignorant to the concept of evil; he forms a fictional persona of his wife, presuming that Cathy, like himself, is righteous and kind.
Similarly, Aron Trasks inherent virtue and goodness cause him to believe that everyone around him shares in his morals. Aron cannot relate to the badness and immorality, and, especially in the case of Abra, has trouble understanding and accepting others flaws. He doesnt think about me. Hes made someone up, and its like he put my skin on her. Im not like thatnot like the made-up one. Im always afraid hell see something in me that isnt in the one he made up. Ill be mad or Ill smell bador something else. Hell find out (643). Aron creates a false persona of Abra; he sees a flawless, angelic, beauty rather than the genuine young woman. While Abra is certainly benevolent, she does have faults, but the shortcomings that make Abra human go completely unnoticed by Aron. Aron sees in Abra only what he wants to see a reflection of himself: moral, religious, and dedicated. Abra well of Abra he made his immaculate dream and, having created her, fell in love with her (677). Though unintentionally, Aron replaces the actual Abra with his fabricated version and finds himself falling in love with an exaggerated version of himself. Aron can only recognize his own qualities in Abra, and he magnifies these characteristics to create a preferable, yet inaccurate, version of his significant other.
Just as Adam and Aron are unable to identify or understand corruption in others, Cathy cannot recognize humanitys goodness. Through out her life, Cathy has only been experienced only one consciousness: evil. Having never known a quality of goodness or virtue, she has trouble understanding these attributes in others. You know about the ugliness in people. You showed me the pictures. You use all the sad, weak parts of a man, and God knows he has them.But youyes, thats rightyou dont know about the rest. You dont believe I brought you the letter because I dont want your money. And you dont believe I loved you You see only one side, and you thinkmore than that, youre surethats all there is (504). Cathy believes that, like herself, all me and women are motivated by self-interest and iniquity, and is weary to trust the benevolence in others. Cathy believes that like herself, all me and women are motivated by self-interest and iniquity. I know what you hate. You hate something in them you cant understand. You dont hate their evil. You hate the good in them you cant get at. (424). Cathys cynicism and mistrust come from her incapacity of decency; she cannot recognize the quality of goodness in others that she lacks, so she assumes that all people share in her devilry.