East of Eden

Steinbeck, John

Viking, 1952

p. 169

In 1900 in America “the repository of art and science was the school, and the schoolteacher shielded and carried the torch of learning and of beauty. The schoolhouse was the meetinghouse for music, for debate. The polls were set in the schoolhouse for elections. Social life, whether it was the crowning of a May Queen, the eulogy to a dead president, or an all-night dance, could be held nowhere else. And the teacher was not only an intellectual paragon and a social leader, but also the matrimonial catch of the countryside. A family could indeed walk proudly if a son married the schoolteacher. Her children were presumed to have intellectual advantages both inherited and conditioned.”