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Lee Character Analysis

A Character Study For Honors English 11

Katie Ryan

on 10 January 2013

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Transcript of Lee Character Analysis

By: Blakely Rodgers, Kayla Daigle, Katie Ryan, and Evan Knight Lee, A Character Study In the novel East of Eden, Lee is a simple Chines American who works as a cook and housekeeper for the Trask household. His family's past is very dark, his parents being immigrants in disguise, but he keeps a more or less positive view on life. Though intelligent and well educated, he often takes up the role of a pidgin speaking China man to play into the stereotypes given to him by Americans when not around the Hamiltons or Trasks. He is very philosophical and often introduces the novels themes such as the Hebrew word "Timshel". How does He Affect Each Character? - Adam Trask
- Cal and Aron Trask
- Cal Alone
- Abra Bacon 1. He is the surrogate mother, wife, loyal friend and voice of wisdom. Who Is Lee? Who does Lee affect in the novel? - Adam: Lee keeps Adam from completely becoming a corpse of a human both mentally and physically. After Cathy shot Adam and left the Trask household, Lee assisted Samuel in bringing Adam out of his fog of depression. He convinced Adam to take care of his baby sons and introduces to Adam the idea of Timshel. He improves Adams morals and becomes his crutch for internal strength
-Cal and Aron: Had it not been for Lee Cal and Aron probably would not have even survived infant hood due to Adam's complete disregard of their presence. Lee serves as both a mother and a father in the fact that he teaches them moral discipline, feeds them, clothes them, and urges them on a path towards a good life.
-Cal: Lee repeatedly saves Cal's image of his father and remains the only one in the book who (soberly) tells Cal the truth about his mother. Lee teaches Cal to be a true man, unlike his black hearted mother and unlike his unrealistic brother because of the idea of timshel. Had Lee not been Cal's emotional well, Cal would have accepted his mother as an inescapable being inside him and turned towards a darker path dominated by guilt.
-Abra: With her father's absence due to scandalous black mail Abra takes in Lee as a father like figure as well as a surcease. Lee helps Abra sort out emotions about Aron, Cal, and her family and stays with Lee more than her own family. What are Lee's primary roles in the novel? 2. He was Steinbeck's spokesperson for the oriental culture 3. He introduces many of the novels' key themes. When the twins were born, Adam wanted absolutely nothing to do with the boys due to his depression and became completely aloof to their presence because of their mother leaving them. It was Lee who initiated naming the boys. he ensured the boys were fed, clothed, and had a moral upbringing. He was also the boys confident when they needed the emotional support their father could not give them. Lee nurses Adam back to health both after he was shot by his wife and when he had a heart attack over his son Aron. He became Adam's caretaker and consultant that engaged in long discussions over Adam's emotional state and obligation to his sons. Lee also decorated and kept the house clean, and reasoned with Adam about his finances. Lee was a loyal friend not only to Adam, but to Samuel Hamilton. Through both their friendships with Adam they managed to bring him out of depression from losing his runaway wife. Lee became an emotional crutch to Adam and told him the things that he needed to change for the sake of Adam's well being. Even when Lee obtains his life long dream oppurtunity of opening a book store he still comes back to the Trask household and remains their housekeeper and friend. Lee is wise in the ways of the world, he is not only an expert in Chinese philosophy but also has an understanding of the human heart with both its good and evil. His intuition led him to hate Kathy when all others were blind to her, but also led him to share his wisdom and befriend the kindhearted Samuel Hamilton. A lover of books, and the expert of Timshel, Lee stands as the true voice of reason as well as wisdom Mother: Wife: Loyal Friend: Voice of Wisdom: "I don't know where being a servant came into disrepute. It is the refuge of the philosopher, the food of the lazy, and, properly carried out, it is a position of power, even of love." Overcoming Stereotypes Through Lee, John Steinbeck manages to explain the duality of being both Asian and American and how non-Asians view the culture as a lesser human and a foreigner rather than a fellow man. Throughout the book Lee is called many names outside the Hamiltons and Trasks such as Chink and Ching Chong. Steinbeck breaks the typical masculine white male view of asians by developing the voice of wisdom and reason as an oriental man. “Lee,” he said at last, “I mean no disrespect, but I’ve never been able to figure out why you people still talk pidgin when an illiterate baboon from the black bogs of Ireland, with a head full of Gaelic and a tongue like a potato, learns to talk a poor grade of English in ten years.”

Lee grinned. “Me talkee Chinese talk,” he said.

“Well, I guess you have your response. And it’s not my affair. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t believe it, lee.”

Lee Looked at him and the brown eyes under their rounded upper lids seemed to deepen until they weren’t foreign any more, but man’s eyes, warm and understanding. Lee chuckled. “It’s more than a convenience,” he said. “It’s even more than self-protection. Mostly we have to use it to be understood at all.” The Irony of Lee in Comparison to Common Stereotypes Steinbeck shows tremendous irony in making the observer, philosopher, healer, and peacemaker of the book play the role of a subservient oriental who speaks in pidgin, wears a queue, and works as a servant at the lowest of social class standards. Steinbeck shows the reader the idiocracy of these common American stereotypes in the twenties associated with orientals. In addition Lee tells Samuel that playing into the stereotype keeps him from violence, instantly enraging the reader at the thought of such a mesmerizing character being harmed. “And in a few years you can almost disappear; while I, who was born in Grass Valley, went to school and several years to the University of California, have no chance of mixing.”

“If you cut your queue, dressed and talked like other people?

“No. I tried it. To the so-called whites I was still a Chinese, but an untrustworthy one; and at the same time my Chinese friends steered cleared of me. I had to give it up.”
-Samuel and Lee Timshel Lee is the primary researcher of the story of Cain and Abel and proffers the novel's central concept of "thou mayest." He uses this to save Cal from destroying himself with guilt at the end of the novel. Good vs. Evil Lee is a clear character of goodness in the novel, he easily differentiates the people plagued by evil (such as his automatic hatred for Cathy) and those who are warm spirited (such as his good friend Samuel Hamilton. Lee presents Cal with the choice to not follow his family legacy.
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