In the novel, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Catherine Ames is one of the main characters.  She is introduced to the reader as a monster and as time goes on, she possesses both monster-like and animal qualities. As Catherine gets older and wiser, she gets eviler and displays her monster and animal-like characteristics. She knows she is powerful and indestructible. She has manipulated and tricked many people in her life causing them to go to the extreme of death.

Catherine “Cathy” shows her evilness and her monster-like behavior in many scenes throughout the book. Steinbeck illustrates Cathy as being a monster, “I believed there are monsters born in the world … It is my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her.

Cathy was born with an innocent look that fooled many; she had golden blond hair, hazel eyes, a thin and dedicated nose, and a small chin to make her face look heart-shaped. According to the town Cathy lived, Cathy had a scent of sweetness, but that is just what Cathy wanted the town to see and think when Cathy planned her kill.

“The fire broke out… the Ames house went up like a rocket … Enough remained of Mr. and Mrs. Ames to make sure there were two bodies.” Cathy had set the house on fire and broke into the safe to steal the family’s money. As the investigators scooped the place, they noticed that the bolts stuck out and there were no keys left in the locks. They knew it was not an accident. Cathy’s body was never found, but the town assumed that she died.

“If it had not been for Cathy’s murder, the fire and robbery might have been a coincidence.” Steinbeck, again, portrays the reader that Cathy is a monster. “When I said Cathy was a monster it seemed to me that it was so.” Steinbeck is reassuring the reader that Cathy is a monster and with the evidence before and after this statement.

For example, Cathy later changes her name to Kate entrains a whorehouse. While she runs the house, she takes pictures of all the important male individuals in the town to later send to their spouses and families. Cathy plans to send the pictures whether they caused trouble or not.

As Cathy’s character evolves, Steinbeck changes his description from a monster to an animal. “Her head jerked up and her sharp teeth fastened on his hand across the back and up into the palm near the little finger…her jaw was set and her head twisted and turned, mangling his hand the way a terrier worries a sack,” Steinbeck said.

Cathy’s sharp teeth sunk into the man’s flesh like a dog’s canines would have. She tore away at the skin and twisted and turned her head to resemble a dog. “Do you think I want to be human? Look at those pictures! I’d rather be an animal than a human. The physical features of Cathy are that of a human but her mental state resembles an animal.

Cathy seems to know how to manipulate any individual without trying; for example, she said, “Uncontrolled hatred shone in Kate’s eyes. She screamed a long and shrill animal screech.” Cathy, for unknown reasons, has animal characteristics. This one just happens to be the screech of an animal. Steinbeck uses Cathy for suspense in his novel. You never know what she is going to do next or what she is thinking.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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