“I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.”

One hundred pages into East of Eden, I am absolutely loving it! The writing is spectacular and I love the way the narrator wanders away from the plot to talk about life, society or whatever he wants. I love the mystery of who the narrator is. We know he is connected to the people he is discussing (some are his ancestors) but he is not present in the plot. The story in no way seems rushed yet all I want to do is sit in my reading chair all night and flip pages.

When I finish this 600-page monster (pun intended), I will post a complete book review. Please check back in a week or two! Until then, enjoy page 71 of East of Eden (below) and check out my previous book reviews here!

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishments for concealed sins.
And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?
Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare to others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden p.71

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About Sarah JS

Aspiring writer, lover of words, book nerd, working editor, and permanent student of the world

Posted on March 28, 2014, in Literature and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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