Betrayal of Brotherhood in the Work of John Steinbeck- Cain Sign

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This volume contains a diverse and provocative collection of critical essays that explore Steinbeck’s preoccupation with the story of Cain and Abel. Among other things, the essays address the issue of how, for Steinbeck, the story of sibling rivalry reflects a deeper, typically American confusion over whether to chose brotherhood over self-satisfaction. A second issue involves whether mankind should work toward unification with those they consider to be personally threatening or whether such threats should be eliminated through violence. This volume probes the complexity of Steinbeck’s reconstruction of this ancient myth and offers both Biblical and literary scholars the opportunity to examine the various ways he incorporated the story into his extensive canon.


“A feast for literary and theological debate. . . . The most stimulating attribute of this provocative collection is that it demonstrates that as Steinbeck’s centennial approaches, he still challenges the most promising critics of a new generation, making this essential reading not just for specialists, but for anyone attracted by the novelist’s avowal that ‘My whole work drive has been aimed at making people understand one another,’ “ – Warren French, author of Steinbeck’s Fiction Revisited (Twayne)

“A thorough, noteworthy edition written with clarity and insight, reveal[ing] how Steinbeck used mythical structures as a way of forcing readers to reckon with the shadow of human neurosis.” – Rodney P. Rice

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface, Acknowledgment, Introduction
Part One
Shaping Cain and Abel (Meyer)
From Other to Brother (McCarthy)
Steinbeck as Fabulist (Jones)
Adam’s Wound (John Steinbeck IV)
Part 2
“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” Fathers, Brothers and Wives in Steinbeck’s To A God Unknown (Werlock)
The Pastures of Heaven: Agrarianism and the Emergent Middle Class (Mann)
The Evil Other and the Migrant Movement: Cain Sign in In Dubious Battle (Cassuto)
Overcome by Cain: Human Nature’s Inner Battle in Steinbeck’s “Strike” Novel (Busch)
Of Mice and Men: A Story of Innocence Retained (McEntyre)
Of Mice and Men: John Steinbeck’s Parable of the Curse of Cain (Goldhurst)
A Fugitive Upon the Earth: Tom Joad and the Myth of Cain (Shaw)
Between Inaction and Immoral Action – Tom Joad’s Self-Definition (Barry)
Dual Duality: Kino as Cain and Abel in The Pearl (Syed)
Raising Cain: Steinbeck’s The Red Pony and the Reversal of Biblical Myth (Etheridge)
The Bright Failure: What Shall We Make of Chaos? (Railsback)
Fathers and Sons in East of Eden (Ouderkirk)
Friendly Fire: Steinbeck’s East of Eden (Gladstein)
Endless Possibilities: The Significance of Nomos in Steinbeck’s East of Eden (Meyer)
The Dissolution of the Curse of Cain in East of Eden (Bragg)
John Steinbeck’s Viva Zapata! And the Curse of Cain (Yarmus)
Relation, Vision, and Tracking the Welsh Rats in East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent (Burningham)
Citizen Cain: Ethan Hawley’s Double Identity in The Winter of Our Discontent (Meyer)
Judge, Observer, Prophet: The American Cain and Steinbeck’s Shifting Perspective (Heavilin)
“We Are Cain’s Children”: Towards a Newer Testament (Ditsky)
Postscript; Index

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