35 Best 'East Of Eden' Quotes by John Steinbeck

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Feb 29, 2024 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Mar 10, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Bust of American author John Steinbeck
Age: 0-99
Read time: 6.1 Min

'East Of Eden' is one was written and published by John Steinbeck in 1952.

Biblically speaking 'East Of Eden' means the Land of Nod where Cain was exiled. The book was banned in California as many saw it to be obscene and profane especially due to the woman character, Cathy, who opts for the negative story-line in the world ahead.

'East Of Eden' by John Steinbeck has a variety of characters that explore the themes of love, the capacity for self-destruction, depravity, guilt, freedom, beneficence and the struggle for acceptance and greatness, and more. The major theme of 'East Of Eden' revolves around the Hebrew word 'timshel', 'thou mayest', or originally spelled as 'timshol'. The idea that this word brings forth in the novel is that human kinds are not compelled to pursue sainthood are doomed to sin. It is their choice in the power of which path they would want to choose. This is reflected in the quote from the book that says, "We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal."

For more such quotes, check out quotes articles like john Steinbeck quotesand ['Grapes Of Wrath' quotes].

Famous 'East Of Eden' Book Quotes

The 'East Of Eden' book is considered as a 'magnum opus'. Check the quote-list below to know this thing for a good take on what this novel means to people.

1. "Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness... and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.

2. "It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter Three.

3. "Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter Eight.

4. "The gods are fallen and all safety is gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter Three.

5. "One says the silent man is the wise man and the other that a man without words is a man without thought."

- Samuel, Chapter 13.

6. "And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.

7. "And this I must fight against any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.

8. "Most people don’t read the details. It’s the details that astonish me."

- Samuel, Chapter 22.

9. "This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.

10. "All great and precious things are lonely."

- Lee, Chapter 47.

11. "And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good."

- Lee, Chapter 53.

Most Human John Steinbeck 'East Of Eden' Quotes

Cannery Row company board

Man is full of flaws but it is his own choice to be so. This quote-list from 'East Of Eden' book is a great quote-list that you'd believe to be true to the man.

12. "A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter Nine.

13. "Maybe we all have in us a secret pond where evil and ugly things germinate and grow strong."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 13.

14. "Perhaps it takes courage to raise children."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 14.

15. "We are the children of our father. It means we aren't the first. It's an excuse, and there aren't enough excuses in the world."

- Adam, Chapter 22.

16. "People like you to be something, preferably what they are."

- Lee, Chapter 22.

17. "Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids."

- Will, Chapter 23.

18. "I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart... a loving woman is almost indestructible."

- Lee, Chapter 28.

19. "Dear Lord... let me be like Aron. Don't make me mean. I don't want to be."

- Cal, Chapter 30.

20. "All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.

21. "Humans are caught in their lives, in their thoughts ... and in their kindness and generosity too in a net of good and evil."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.

22. "But your son will live. He will marry and his children will be the only remnant left of you."

- Lee, Chapter 55.

Good Quotes From 'East Of Eden' That You'd Like

Get a few good quotations from the characters of 'East Of Eden' book by John Steinbeck from this quote-list below.

23. "Only twice in my life have I seen eyes like that—not like human eyes. And, he thought, it’s the night and the moon."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 16.

24. "An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie."

- Samuel, Chapter 22.

25. "The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears."

- Lee, Chapter 22.

26. "I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.

27. "I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 34.

28. "The nation slid imperceptibly toward war, frightened and at the same time attracted."

- John Steinbeck, Chapter 41.

29. "Sometimes responsibility is worse. It doesn’t carry any pleasant egotism."

- Lee, Chapter 47.

Strong Quotes By Human Characters From 'East Of Eden'

This quote-list from the book will help you know the characters from 'East Of Eden' book better with Lee quotes, Adam Trask quotes and Cathy Ames quotes.

30. "None of my children will be great either, except perhaps Tom. He's suffering over the choice right now. It’s a painful thing to watch."

- Samuel, Chapter 22.

31. "The word timshel—‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world."

- Lee, Chapter 24.

32. "But... the choice of winning! I had never understood it or accepted it before."

- Samuel, Chapter 24.

33. "There’s more beauty in truth even if it is dreadful beauty."

- Lee, Chapter 28.

34. "I hate her because I know why she went away. I know—because I’ve got her in me."

- Cal, Chapter 38.

35. "And when they thought they could tell me what to do—oh! that's when I fooled them best."

- Cathy, Chapter 39.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'East Of Eden' quotes  then why not take a look at 'Of Mice And Men' quotes and J.D. Salinger quotes.

‍Main image credit: John Silva / Shutterstock.com

Article image credit: Rolf_52 / Shutterstock.com

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

Read full bio >