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A Dreadful Kind of Beauty

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Emily Esten

on 28 January 2013

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Transcript of A Dreadful Kind of Beauty

Emily Esten & Jennifer Goddu A Dreadful Kind of Beauty:
Style in East of Eden Salinas Valley Steinbeck's consistent and dualistic
descriptions of the Salinas Valley lend
to the idea of the complexities and
development of the residents. Cathy's Teeth The savage and brutish teeth of Cathy identify
with her Id, marking when it takes control over
logical reasoning. Adam's Ranch The once delicate sentences regarding Adam's
ranch become just as stark and wild as the ranch,
which in turn reflects the nature of the people
who live off it. Cathy's Hands The evolving style of Cathy's hands
throughout the novel parallels the
evolution of her manipulations. Lee's Story Lee's novel show of intelligent diction and nostalgic
reverence reflection the celebration of timshel
presented in the story. Structure Typically, at a topic transition, Steinbeck will begin with a discourse about a related subject, directly related to a new topic. Chapter 8
"I BELIEVE THERE ARE MONSTERS BORN in the world to human parents." "It was not a fine river at all, but it was the only one we had and so we boasted about it - how dangerous it was in a wet winter and how dry it was in a dry summer." (pg. 4) "There were twenty feet of sand and then black earth again, and even a piece of redwood, that imperishable wood that does not rot." (pg. 4) It’s layered—in the complexity of the people and the actual soil. The style regarding the Salinas Valley doesn’t change throughout—the cycle of the valley is continuous, so the style is continuous.

Long, descriptive sentences that here often contain opposites. The valley often envelopes both sides—wet and dry, fertile and infertile. “Her head jerked up and her sharp teeth fastened on his hand across the back and up into the palm near the little finger.” (pg. 192-193) Her hostile eyes glared at him and her lips raised snarling from her little teeth.” (pg. 199) Her teeth are mentioned only when she’s not quite in control, like when she’s going through the labor pain. When they are described, words like ‘sharp’ and ‘little’ seem to invoke those of a small animal, like a cat’s teeth. When they show up, it’s usually accompanied by her most drastic actions, such as biting Sam. The fact that she does bite someone sets her apart from every other character because it’s animalistic. “It was like a child’s hand, almost a baby’s hand. Adam touched her wrist with his finger. And her fingers moved a little in reflex. Her wrist was warm….he straightened her hand and touched the little cushion pads on the fingertips. Her fingers were soft and pink, but the skin on the back of her hand seemed to have an underbloom like a pearl.” (pg. 114) Her shoulders had become plump while her hands grew lean and wrinkled.” (pg. 316) “She could almost feel her joints thicken and knot.” (pg. 554) At first, descriptions of Cathy’s hands are long, flowery, and awe-inspiring. They are a thing of beauty, something with ever-lasting youth and a glow that seems to come from within. As Cathy/Kate ages, the descriptions of her hands change. They’re short, stark, and the words that are used in descriptions have really strong negative connotations. Her hands are aged, wizened, plagued with arthritis.
“We’ve all gone wild, like the land.” (pg. 343) Built of adobe, it stood in a tiny opening in the foothills, a miniature valley fed by a precious ever-running spring of sweet water. That of course was why the first Sanchez had built his seat there. Huge live oaks shaded the valley, and the earth had a richness and a greenness foreign to this part of the country.” (pg. 136) When describing the ranch itself, long, descriptive sentences with a wealth of detail are used. They seem to evoke the river itself, with a length and winding path. The images evoked are similar to those of Eden, with such green fertility that’s completely different from what the residents of the Valley know. When Adam says that his boys are wild, it’s one short, blunt sentence. It’s the only time they really acknowledge that the ranch is overgrown and has ceased to be the Eden it was meant to be, and the short, blunt sentence seems to highlight the starkness of the realization. “He [Sam] loved a celebration of the human soul. Such things were like a triumph for him.” (pg. 359) Formal diction—This represents the first time Adam realizes Lee is an intelligent human being, so the ‘pidgin’ English is dropped. Long, descriptive sentences lend a sense of nostalgia and reverence: they represent the length of the journey and the challenges the family faced. "It was my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life."
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