One of the most interesting characters I have come across in fiction books is Cathy Ames of East of Eden.
If you have read the book, you know she’s a lot of things, but nice and caring are not the best adjectives to describe her. However, she is so interesting and unique in a special way. In this post, I answer some questions about this fantastic character.
Who is Cathy Ames?
Eve, Satan, the symbol of evil – her name is Catherine Amesbury. But as the book progresses, she changes names to hide her identity. A few of the most villainy things she did in the book include killing her own parents, sleeping with a brother, carrying his child, marrying the other brother, attempting to lose her pregnancy, shooting her husband, and not liking one of her own kids.
I admire the depth of her character, so I will explain.
Why does Cathy do what she did?
Freedom. She wanted to be free so much that she was willing to do anything and everything to get it. Her definition of freedom isn’t specific, but from the ways the author describes it, Cathy wants to be free to travel, run her own business, and be adventurous. Anything in her way of achieving that impedes her and should be treated with hostility and cruelty.
The narrator introduces us to this character in chapter 8. He told us about Cathy’s growing up. We get the picture of her body and personality from the description early on that she is not the kind of girl who conforms. Many readers don’t like it when a character presents herself in a way that makes them feel more special than the other average girl, but the narrator did the writing so well that the readers have to decide for themselves by interpreting the details, especially when we are told about her childhood.
It is my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life. Some balance wheel was misweighted, some gear out of ratio. She was not like other people, never was from birth. And just as a cripple may learn to utilize his lack so that he becomes more effective in a limited field than the uncrippled, so did Cathy, using her difference, make a painful and bewildering stir in her world.
As an author, I have learned not always to judge. It’s my duty to look at every character and present the details of why they do what they do and not to pass any judgments while doing it. Let the readers decide if they are evil or not. And I think John Steinbeck did that so well in East of Eden and all his books. I mean, he is a master of his craft, a Nobel Prize winner.
Is Cathy a Difficult Person in East of Eden?
Cathy shows some early signs of being a different child, which gets even more noticeable as she grows up. She has no friends and makes enemies with everyone except a few exceptions. (She likes one of her kids, Cal, for instance.) In fact, she thinks everyone is evil and should not be trusted. Aside from that, she treats every other person equally. And those who dare to stop her in her quest for freedom get the worst treatment. In some cases, they get killed.
So, Cathy Ames of East of Eden is my favorite character from the book. It’s so easy to understand where she’s coming from, yet seeing what she does is extremely shocking. Like, hey, I get it; I know what she’s already capable of, but each time she did something, I held the book farther away and stared long at the sky, like, no way! Why should she do that? Well, I know why, but I can’t help myself asking again and again.
I think one of the reasons I like her character is because of how complex and detailed her character is. She doesn’t change her personality. She only builds upon it gradually and gradually. And she inspires the main character in my book The Mystery Around Lola.
This is how the narrator introduces the chapter about Cathy:
“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 punishment for concealed sins.”East of Eden
A woman as an allegory, Cathy Ames of East of Eden, represents the biblical Eve, and so are the other characters in the book. The biblical Cain and Abel can also be said to be Aaron and Cal — Cathy Ames’ twin sons. Although you can say Cathy also represents evil in a way, she justifies her actions each time she does something horrible. She doesn’t mean to kill her parents; they just don’t give her a chance to be who she wants to be. And she doesn’t mean to cheat on her Adam, but Adam refuses to listen to her actions and behaviors. She doesn’t mean to shoot him later on, but when she says he wants to leave the marriage, Adams tries so hard to convince her otherwise.
One of the reasons she gets away with some of her actions is because of her beauty, because some of the men (her victims) think she is incapable of such things. Some think beauty is unqualified for evil.
After leaving Adam, she ends up in another town and works in a brothel with a woman called Faye. Some years later, Fayes dies suspiciously because Cahty poisons her gradually for months. Then, Cathy Ames begins to manage the brothel and build it into a more sinister den of
How does Cathy die in East of Eden?
At the end of the book, Cathy dies by suicide. She doesn’t like many people except Aaron, and seeing the disappointment in her son becomes so extreme that she can’t bear it.
A little rewind for those who haven’t read or have forgotten, Cathy likes one of her kids, Aron, a lot more than the other, Cal. She has been checking on Aaron at a church, though Aaron isn’t aware. Cathy doesn’t have the courage to meet him. Cal, her other kid, the one who has a personality that’s similar to hers, shows up at her brothel a few times. One day, he brings Aaron with him. Cathy takes her own life after that meeting.
Cathy Ames of East of Eden Is Well Developed Character
All my reading has brought me to characters that change during the course of their story, but Cathy Ames is an exception. She is exactly how she’d desired since the first time her name came up, yet she is an interesting character throughout the book.
Writing this doesn’t do justice to how interesting it is to read about Cathy Ames. Her lack of trust in other people always makes her a step ahead of what they can do or how they can hurt her. But she becomes more restless and edgy as she grows older.
If you’re interested in reading about an interesting character with so many complexities, you should check my book, The Mystery About Lola.