Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thought for the day

I am reading East of Eden.  The very copy I had my dad sign for me back in 2006.  I knew I loved this book, and I remember some of it, but I'd forgotten exactly how much I love it.

I'm only up to page 26, but I've come across a passage that I just can't stop thinking about.  Adam Trask and his dad Cyrus are talking.  It goes like this: 
"As they walked back toward the house Cyrus turned left and entered the woodlot among the trees, and it was dusk.  Suddenly Adam said, "You see that stump there, sir? I used to hide between the roots on the far side.  After you punished me I used to hide there, and sometimes I went there just because I felt bad."

"Let's go and see the place," his father said.  Adam led him to it, and Cyrus looked down at the nestlike hole between the roots. "I knew about it long ago...Once when you were gone a long time I thought you must have such a place, and I found it because I felt the kind of a place you would need.  See how the earth is tramped and the little grass is torn?  And while you sat in there you stripped little pieces of bark to shreds.  I knew it was the place when I came upon it."

Adam was staring at his father in wonder.  "You never came here looking for me," he said.

"No," Cyrus replied.  "I wouldn't do that.  You can drive a human too far.  I wouldn't do that. Always you must leave a man one escape before death. Remember that! I knew, I guess, how hard I was pressing you. I didn't want to push you over the edge."
It hit me in a place I didn't know I had.  When my kids are driving me nuts, when I'm trying to teach them something they don't want to learn, do I give them their escape route?  Even more, do I know the place they go to to retreat to, and do I allow them to go there?  Or do I follow them to that place, bullying them and attempting to push them over the edge?

I don't know the answer. But it gives me reason to pause and think.  What does this passage mean to you?  Do you see it from Cyrus' point of view, or Adam's?


Lucy said...

I adore this book. I should read it again.

I can see both sides. I definitely understand Adam's disappointment that his father never came for him, for I often want someone to reach out to me when I am hurt.

But, I so very rarely reach out to those I'VE hurt, that I totally get Cyrus's way of thinking. I always assume the person needs space and time.

Just love the writing and the depth of thought. Enjoy!

heidikins said...

I love East of Eden, but I'd forgotten this passage.

I have my hiding places, still, and I prefer to be left alone while I'm hiding. What is the point of a hiding place if it's not a secret? At some point I will (or have) needed it for absolute alone-time, and I don't want someone to come look for me then.

Love this post,

Amy Sorensen said...

I need to reread this. One of the things I love about it is that it could come from the same person who wrote Of Mice and Men. Such completely different books, you know?

I didn't see Adam as being disappointed. In my head, he was almost...annoyed that his father might have come to his place. As if he would have been invading it and taking away some of its sacredness.

My hiding places are in my head. Even when i did have sort-of a hiding place (the backyard) I still was inside my head there. I don't know if my kids have a hiding place...I need to think about it!