Isolation Form Love In The Film “east Of Eden”East of Eden by John Steinbeck is an optimistic film about a boy becoming a man and trying desperately to earn the love of his father and mother in the troubled times of the Great Depression. Cal, the main character is a troubled teen who lives with his entrepreneur father, and a brother who is following closely in his fathers steps. Cals mother left him and his brother to become a madam of a whorehouse. The struggle takes place between Cal and his father due to his fathers lack of compassion for his son. The conflict rises further when Cal tries to help his father repay a debt, his father further isolates his son and this turns to violent outbursts. Steinbeck focuses on Cal in order to suggest the theme that without love people become violent and mean.
Steinbeck shows Cals isolation from love and its aggressive results when Cal angrily throws stones at his mothers house. When Cal first learns of his supposedly dead mothers existence he is outraged and goes to seek her. When he is not allowed to see her he violently throws stones and yells “Why cant a kid see his own mother?” and “Why cant I see my mother”. This is the first of several violent actions taken by Cal in an effort to be redeemed by his parents affections. His actions, although violent, are a symbol of his not being loved and the isolation he feels towards his family. In the scene where Cal tries to confer with his mother it is also learned that his mother does not want to have any contact with her children.
Steinbeck shows Cals isolation from love, and its violent repercussions again when Cal reacts to his brothers lack of compassion for him with violence and destruction. In the scene when Cal is spying on his brother Aaron and his brothers girlfriend, he is outraged by the things his brother has to say and he decides to throw large blocks of his fathers ice out of the barn. This sole action shows how childlike Cal has remained due to his isolation from his families love. His unassuming father only says “that boy is out of control” not even acknowledging that there is a greater problem at hand, and even less does he understand the fact that it is partly his fault. Steinbecks theme of isolation form love is greatly illustrated because his father does not even take to scolding Cal, which shows no feelings what so ever.
Steinbeck finally shows Cals isolation from love and its violent results when he fights his brother Aaron in a fit of jealousy. The climax of the film is the scene in which Cal presents his father with the money that he has earned to pay off his fathers debts, and his father turns him away. This is an important scene because it shows that his father really is not willing to show compassion for his son. Cal has earned enough money to pay off his fathers debts by investing in beans during the war and explodes when his father turns the money down.
The final scenes of the film show Aaron leaving for war and the father finally telling his son about his mother. This story has many ties to the biblical tale of the prodigal son. One of the similarities Steinbeck incorporates is the use of beans. In the parable the son who is the farmer is denied thanks by God and in the film Cval gets his money to repay his father from beans. Also Cal uses the direct Quote “Am I my brothers keeper?” to his father which implies that he knows what has happened to Aaron but withholds it from his father. This film incorporates the general theme that isolation from love can be a dangerous thing.