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Potential of the Peripheral

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Booking Through Thursday asks:

Favorite secondary characters? (Note the plural)

Lee, the servant, is a far more significant character than any other in East of Eden. Steinbeck uses irony by portraying Lee as a simple-minded servant. There are numerous occasions where Lee fixes a problem in the Trask family. He is the reason that the Trasks stayed together as long as they did. He is a parent to Aaron, Cal, and Abra, a friend to Adam, and a philosopher of life. While I might not be the intellectual and bonding servant who philosophizes, I can relate to Lee because I prefer to be thriving in silence and not being at the center of the stage. I want to be exerting positive influence in people’s life without being recognized. Throughout the book, Lee’s social status presents tremendous irony. Being a servant, he is of a lower class than all other people. However, it’s evident that Lee is the most superior character in the story. To be honest, even after 20+ years in America, it gives me goosepimples when people identify me an “American” or “Asian American.” Eating habits you can assimilate, but not your roots. Sometimes I feel like being a second-class citizen, especially when you’re minority and gay.

The conversation between Lee and Sam Hamilton shows that Lee is only hiding behind the status of a servant, but in actuality, he is an intelligent, English speaking American. It’s odd for Lee to hold trust in people, but he immediately trusts Sam Hamilton when they meet. Sam Hamilton’s understanding of Lee is important because Lee now has someone to talk to about his insights on life. Throughout reading East of Eden, I questioned how the story might have turned out if Lee’s character doesn’t exist. The story is about the Trasks, but it is Lee that provides the nuts and bolts. Lee is not afraid of Cathy, but in fact makes her feel uneasy. Lee is obviously unique if Cathy, a quite conniving and manipulative person, cannot control him.

2 Responses

  1. Lee is one of my favorite characters ever. Timshel baby.

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