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Lee's Role In East Of Eden

1040 words - 5 pages

“But the Hebrew word timshel—'Thou mayest'—that gives a choice. For if 'Thou mayest'—it is also true that 'Thou mayest not.' That makes a man great and that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”
-Lee (chapter 24)
Lee has a huge role in the novel East of Eden, as he plays the maternal role for the boys, the loyal philosophic friend for Adam, and a major character for the novel. In the Trask house Lee is portrayed as nothing more than a low class servant, but as we look further into the novel we see the impact Lee had on everyone. For example, he ...view middle of the document...

You see what is, where most people see what they expect” (161). Lee finds that it is easier to let others believe that he is straight from China rather than being born and raised in America. He explained that, “ It’s more for convenience…It’s even more than self protection. Mostly we have to use it to be understood at all.” (161)
As the story continues there is a significant change in Lee. In continuing to live with the Trasks he begins to find himself. During the time he was with the family he basically raised two boys alone, and managed to pull Adam Trasks from the depths of despair. He played a major role within the Trasks family. In that he transitioned from his job as servant to one where he became an integral part of the family. In the process of living and working with the Trasks family, he discovered himself, and as the family developed, he developed with them. He had lost his own parents at a young age, so upon meeting and working with Adam Trask it became a reciprocal relationship; he helped his new family, yet that family allowed him to transition away from his fake Chinese face to where he could feel and act like his true self. Lee cut off his que and began talking to Adam without using his Pidgin English. I believe that a lot of this was the doing of his new philosophy of timshel. Lee decided that he could not hide behind his Chinese features so he emerged as the American philosophical genius that he truly was. He used his logic of timshel and the different paths people take to find his own path.
Long before he had met the Trasks, he had dreamt of opening a store of his own. During his time with the family he had grown and matured immensely. Lee was the closest thing that Adam and Cal had to a mother and...

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