Abstract

In John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Cathy Ames is initially identified as a monster. However, both Cathy and Steinbeck reveal the disarming normalness of her psyche. Scholars tend to simply accept the label of “monster” without fully examining the formation of Cathy’s identity. To truly understand Cathy, it is important to examine her connection to Alice—both the Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Trask. My paper will examine the formation of Cathy’s identity through the millennial lens of perspective. In the twenty-first century, people are increasingly trying to see things from other people’s perspective. However, more than half a century ago, Steinbeck was already questioning how tolerant or judgmental people should be in labeling another person’s identity. He creates Cathy to be a horrifying monster who unexpectedly has the qualities of a fictional child, Alice in Wonderland, and a meek housewife, Alice Trask. Furthermore, both Alices contain the key to Cathy’s deepest desire—the anti-monstrous desire to disappear out of existence. By connecting Cathy’s story to the two Alices, Steinbeck shows how elusive yet familiar another individual’s identity can be.

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