50+ Best East of Eden Quotes: Exclusive Selection

East of Eden is a novel by American author and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck. Published in September 1952, the work is regarded by many to be Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel and by Steinbeck himself to be his magnum opus. Profoundly inspirational East of Eden quotes will fire up your brain and encourage you to look at life differently while making you laugh.

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Famous East of Eden Quotes

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. — East of Eden

Cathy had the one quality required of a great and successful criminal: she trusted no one, confided in no one. — John Steinbeck

I thought I had inherited both the scars of the fire and the impurities which made the fire necessary—all inherited, I thought. All inherited. — Lee

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill? — East of Eden

An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times — East of Eden

I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. — East of Eden

Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids. — East of Eden

He felt the warmth for his brother you can feel only for someone who is not perfect. — John Steinbeck

This I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. — East of Eden

I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar – if he is financially fortunate. — East of Eden

The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. — East of Eden

It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. — Samuel Hamilton

Adam, I didn’t want to come here. I am not going to stay here. — Cathy

It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them. — East of Eden

No one who is young is ever going to be old. — East of Eden

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not. — East of Eden

The Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open…Why, that makes a man great…He can choose his course and fight it through and win…I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed – because ‘Thou mayest’. ch — East of Eden

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. — Lee

I will warn you now that not their blood but your suspicion might build evil in them. — Samuel Hamilton

I could see it. You thought I would talk. Well, I’m talking. — Cathy

Even God can have a preference, can he? Let’s suppose God liked lamb better than vegetables. I think I do myself. Cain brought him a bunch of carrots maybe. And God said, ‘I don’t like this. Try again. Bring me something I like and I’ll set you up alongside your brother.’ But Cain got mad. His feelings were hurt. And when a man’s feelings are hurt he wants to strike at something, and Abel was in the way of his anger. — Samuel Hamilton

In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. — East of Eden

But ‘Thou mayest!’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win — East of Eden

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. — East of Eden

Don’t you dare take the lazy way. It’s too easy to excuse yourself because of your ancestry. — East of Eden

The whole camp became my mother. It is a beauty—a dreadful kind of beauty. — Lee

To a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. — East of Eden

Perhaps it takes courage to raise children. — East of Eden

I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible. — Lee

Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. — East of Eden

Act out being alive, like a play. And after a while … it will be true. — Samuel Hamilton

I love you better. I always have. That may be a bad thing to tell you but it’s true. — Cyrus Trask

We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. — East of Eden

Whatever you do, it will be you who do it—not your mother. — Lee

People like you to be something, preferably what they are. — East of Eden

When a child first catches adults out—when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just—his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. — East of Eden

When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influences and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. — East of Eden

There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty. — East of Eden

A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean question: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well – or ill? — East of Eden

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. — East of Eden

I didn’t know then, but I know now—you were fighting for your love. — Adam Trask

This I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. — East of Eden

It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world. — East of Eden

Perhaps the less we have, the more we are required to brag. — East of Eden

She saw with satisfaction his nerves begin to go. — John Steinbeck

There’s a capacity for appetite… that a whole heaven and earth of cake can’t satisfy — East of Eden

But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed – because ‘Thou mayest. — East of Eden

To a criminal, honesty is foolish. — East of Eden

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents…. The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul? — East of Eden

Only twice in my life have I seen eyes like that—not like human eyes. — Samuel Hamilton-Cathy

Maybe we all have in us a secret pond where evil and ugly things germinate and grow strong. But this culture is fenced, and the swimming brood climbs up only to fall back. Might it not be that in the dark pools of some men the evil grows strong enough to wriggle over the fence and swim free? — East of Eden

You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous. — East of Eden

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