East of Eden Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

Teachers, this lesson provides a thorough review and analysis of 'East of Eden.' Students will participate in a reading activity, discussion questions, create a skit and take two quizzes to demonstrate what they've learned.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

  • Explain the characters in East of Eden
  • Explore important themes
  • Create a skit based on one of the book's themes


90 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2

Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3

Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.



  • theme
  • climax
  • allegory
  • setting
  • plot
  • protagonist
  • antagonist


East of Eden: Summary and Characters

  • Prior to the start of this lesson, assign the vocabulary words and review in class.
  • Ask students to discuss one of their favorite characters and themes in East of Eden.
  • Allow students to respond, then explain they are going to further review one of the great American novels, East of Eden.
  • Distribute a copy of East of Eden: Summary & Characters lesson.
  • Select a student to read the first paragraph, then pose the following questions to the class:
    • Identify the setting of the story line.
    • Describe the overall plot of East of Eden.
    • Explain how fact and fiction are intertwined in East of Eden.
  • Now choose another student to read the next paragraph and ask the class to answer these questions:
    • Identify the protagonist and discuss why you believe he is labeled as such.
    • Who is the antagonist? Explain.
    • What does it mean that the Trask twins' paternity is unclear?
  • Ask for a volunteer to read the 'Summary' section, then shoulder pair students and assign the following questions:
    • Use at least five adjectives to describe the Hamiltons. Why do you believe they are so eager to help Adam Trask with the twins?
    • Compare and contrast Adam and Charles.
    • Why do you believe Adam, instead of Charles, fell in love with Cathy?
    • Cathy has been a menace to society since the beginning of time, do you think her behavior was inherent or learned? Explain.
    • After all Adam has been through with Cathy and after Charles dies, does Adam still feel a sense of commitment to Cathy? Explain.
    • How does Caleb feel genetically cheated?
    • Define timshel. Do you think this saying was adequate for Cal to heal? Why or why not?
    • How is money depicted as positive and evil in this book?
    • What is the climax in the story line?
    • Define allegory and discuss why the story is classified as such.
  • Allow each pair to share their responses, then choose another student to read the summary.

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