East of Eden - John Steinbeck East of Eden is often called a modern retelling of Cain and Abel and the author certainly has described it that way. Yet to call it a modern version of the biblical story simply doesn't do it justice. The novel is an epic multi-generational story of a family taking place primarily in Steinbeck's much loved Salinas Valley. It is as much a tale of the valley as it is the troubled Trask family. It is a story of family love and all the conflicts and damage that love can do to a family. Steinbeck's characters are never one dimensional. Even the hate filled Kathy has times which we feel sympathy for her lack of compassion and understanding. The two brothers, Caleb and Aaron, do not even show up until past the halfway mar but they are the center of this novel and the ones we mainly identify with. East of Eden is a landmark in American fiction and arguably Steinbeck's greatest work.