East of Eden

Steinbeck, John

Viking, 1952

p. 336

“I have wondered why it is that some people are less affected and torn by the verities of life and death than others. Una’s death cut the earth from under Samuel’s feet and opened his defended keep and let in old age. On the other hand Liza, who surely loved her family as deeply as did her husband, was not destroyed or warped. Her life continued evenly. She felt sorrow but she survived it. I think perhaps Liza accepted the world as she accepted the Bible, with all of its paradoxes and its reverses. She did not like death but she knew it existed, and when it came it did not surprise her. Samuel may have thought, prayed and philosophized about death, but he did not really believe in it. His world did not have death as a member. He, and all around him, was immortal. When real death came it was an outrage, a denial of the immortality he deeply felt, and the one crack in the wall caused the whole structure to crash . . . To Liza it was simply death–the thing promised and expected. . . . Perhaps it takes these two kinds to make a good marriage, riveted with several kinds of strength.”