I took a brief reading break after finishing The Princes of Ireland and missed this week’s Teaser Tuesday fun.
Last night I pulled a Too-Later and stayed up reading East of Eden well past my bedtime. Groggy and bleary-eyed, the pain I felt this morning was well worth it, this is exactly my kind of book and I can’t believe it took me so long to pick it up.
I came across this passage last night and thought it was a fantastic example of characterization. This single paragraph, though simple, tells the reader exactly who Tom is. I have no idea how often we come across Tom in the future chapters, but from this little excerpt from Tom’s life, I feel I know his motivations and loves, his short comings and his downfalls:
Tom, the third son, was most like his father. He was born in fury and he lived in lightning. Tom came headlong into life. He was a giant in joy and enthusiasms. He didn’t discover the world and its people, he created them. When he read his father’s books, he was the first. He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day. His mind plunged like a colt in a happy pasture, and when later the world put up fences he plunged against the wire, and when the final stockade surounded him, he plunged right through it and out. And as he was capable of giant joy, so did he harbor huge sorrow, so that when his dog died the world ended. –page 39, East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Later it is written: “Tom bruised himself on the world and licked his cuts”, which I found beautiful.