Chapter 1: The narrator describes his childhood in the Salinas Valley. He explains how he learned to tell west from east by simply looking at the mountains, and how the Gabilan Mountains were lovely while the Santa Lucias Mountains were unfriendly. The narrator also explains the the valley’s thirty year weather cycle. There are five to six years of heavy rain, six to seven years of normal rainfall, and the remaining many years left dry and barren. The narrator explains that the valley originally belonged to the Indians, which he described as lazy, then the Spanish, which he described as greedy, then finally the Americans, which he described as even greedier than the Spanish.
Chapter 1 Reaction: I was originally bored when reading the first few lines, but then I felt as if I was actually in the Salinas Valley. I felt as if I could touch the river and walk through the cloud of golden California poppies. I felt that I could stand in the heavy rainfall, and suffer in the unforgiving drought.
Then I felt as I could see the Indians roaming around their land, the Spanish taking the land, and the Americans stealing the stolen land, as if I was one of the explorers.Chapter 2: The narrator’s grandparents arrive in the Salinas Valley from Ireland. Samuel and Liza Hamilton were left with land that was the most barren and deprived of resources. We get an insight into their lives, and how they manage to survive with their nine children.
Samuel worked as a blacksmith, well-digger, and as a makeshift doctor. Samuel’s soothing voice attracted people who loved to hear him talk. People would usually come to his blacksmith shop just to have a chat with him. Liza was stoic and had many morals. She had no weaknesses and suffered bravely through life, and believed that God gave out rewards later.Chapter 2 Reaction: While reading, I felt somewhat sad for the Hamiltons. They immigrated from Ireland, which was already poor, and are stuck with a barren wasteland to call home. The father Samuel has to work three jobs (technically 2) to support his family in any way he can. Liza has to suffer bravely to support her nine children in any way she can. Having nine children to feed and not even being able to feed yourself if a life of pure agony.Chapter 3: We meet Adam Trask and he settles in a fertile area of the Salinas Valley. The narrator soon tells us about Adam’s childhood and about Adam’s father. Cyrus Trask (Adam’s father), was a farmer in Connecticut who lost his leg while in the military. Cyrus got an STD from a black prostitute and gave it to his wife. Mrs. Trask then killed herself, so Cyrus needed help caring Adam. He marries Alice and gets another son named Charles. Alice was afraid of Cyrus, so she kept her tuberculosis a secret. Cyrus studied war and strategy and made lies about his time in the military. His lies got him respect and a paid secretaryship. Adam was good, but Charles was wild and aggressive. When Adam got older, Cyrus asked him to go to the army, but Adam said no. When Adam asked why can’t Charles go, Cyrus said that he refused to let Charles go because it would make Charles even more dangerous. Cyrus tells Alice that he will send Adam to the army without his knowledge, but Cyrus does still love Adam.Chapter 3 Reaction: Throughout the chapter, I constantly considered Cyrus to be a cheat. He lied about everything and cheated on his wife with some prostitute. Just to add insult to injury, Cyrus’ new wife Alice lived in fear because of him. I feel that Adam was the one who got the short end of the stick. This chapter gave us plenty of information about the characters, and was somewhat interesting to read.Chapter 4: Charles runs to the bar after beating Adam, but hears Cyrus is looking for him with a shotgun, which makes him hide for two weeks. Adam stayed in bed for four days, and Cyrus signs him up for the military. In the army, Adam hated to kill, so he missed every shot, and only killed when the bullet ricocheted. Charles and Adam write to each other, and Alice dies. Cyrus gets a position in Washington D.C.. Adam kept a letter that Charles sent which talked about why Cyrus never liked the knife Charles got him; Something is unfinished between Adam and Charles.Chapter 4 reaction: Throughout reading chapter 4, I felt somewhat sad for Charles. Sure Charles is aggressive, but his own father was about to murder him. Adam got treated like a king, while Charles had to hide for two weeks to prevent his own death. I predict that Charles’ loneliness is what drives him to keep writing to Adam, even though he intended to kill him. Chapter 5:We are introduced to the Hamilton family. George is the good and does not cause problems. Will hates to be different; Will has a talent to make money. Tom is the most like his father Samuel, but Tom is more of an extrovert. Joseph is the youngest son who is bad at everything. Una is the oldest daughter who is thoughtful. Lizzie is bitter and had a son. Dessie is humorous that everyone likes being next to her. Olive is the mother of our narrator. Finally, Mollie is a beautiful woman with bold hair and violet eyes. Samuel’s wife, Liza, is very well respected in her family because she raised her children well and with discipline. Liza does not like to listen to anyone and is stubborn, but she became nicer when she drank alcohol.Chapter 5 Reaction:While reading chapter 5, it was interesting to learn about each family and how they are different. The chapter had some funny parts too which made is that much more enjoyable. It was disappointing to not learn much about the narrator’s mom, but overall this chapter was fun to read.Chapter 6:Adam joins the army around when his father became a Secretory of the army. Charles took care of the family’s farm in Connecticut, and lived alone while doing so. Charles visited prostitutes at least once every two weeks to satisfy his needs because he is actually really shy about women. Adam was discharged in 1885, and missed his life in the army. Adam did his best to not go home to Charles, and eventually decided to go back into the army. He was sent to Washington, and met Cyrus who was wearing a fancy suit and a new mechanical leg. Cyrus told Adam that he could get him into a military academy in West Point, but Adam refused and decided to stay in his old regiment. After all the work Charles did to clean the house he was crushed when Cyrus told him that Adam went back into the army. Chapter 6 reaction:While reading, I felt really bad for Charles. Charles tried so hard to make a good impression for his brother, where he cleaned his filthy house AND lived in his shed to keep his house clean for Adam. Just to add insult to injury, Charles was patiently waiting five years for Adam’s return in complete solitude apart from the times he would satisfy his needs with a prostitute. When Charles heard that Adam was not coming, he was completely crushed. He resumed his life of filth in his normal house, and when Adam wrote to him, he merely replied that he didn’t expect him anyway, like when a child gets denied of something and says I didn’t want it anyways. Chapter 7:Adam completes his five years, and is then discharged in San Francisco. He tells Charles that he will come home, but Charles hasn’t heard from Adam in three years. He gets picked up into a chain gang for six months while he was exploring. After being released, he gets picked up again for another six months. Adam escaped three days before he was set free. Charles gets that said Cyrus is dead. Adam then asks for him to wire a hundred dollars to him. Adam shows up at home, and the two talk about what happened in the past years. Adam soon asked about what Charles was hiding, and Charles asked Adam if he loved his father. Adam said no, but Charles said that he did and cried. Cyrus left them some wealth. Adam said that when Charles was fighting him he was fighting for love. The two decided to keep the money. Chapter 7 Reaction: I felt that Charles was really misunderstood throughout the previous chapters. I originally thought that he was just a wayward kid that was an aggressive lost cause, but as it turns out he was really soft inside. While we thought he hated his dad, he actually loved him so much that he wanted to kill Adam to get all of Cyrus’ affection all for himself. This chapter made chapter three far more clear now that we understand Charles desired to be accepted by his father.Chapter 8:The narrator talks about there being monsters in life. We are introduced to Cathy Ames, someone who is beautiful but very strange. Cathy knows how to lie and get away with it. Her mother thinks she is normal like all the other children, but her father is suspicious. One day Cathy goes into a barn, and her mother goes after her to find two fourteen year old boys on her with Cathy’s skirt pulled up; Cathy’s wrists are tied with rope. The two fourteen year old boys claim that Cathy had them pay five cents, and that she tied herself up. The boys were sent to the house of correction regardless of their story. Cathy becomes fourteen, and asks her parents to let her become a teacher; They agree, and send her to highschool. Her latin teacher James Grew starts to act differently and the following morning James was spotted dead by killing himself with a shotgun. During dinner, when James’ suicide comes up, Cathy’s father lies and says it was just some drunken man who rang the doorbell. When Cathy reached sixteen she refused to go to school and said that she does not want to go anymore. Her father makes her go anyways. The following day Cathy snuck away to Boston. After her dad punished her for sneaking out, Cathy changed. She was social, was more focused on school, and started to help around the house. Cathy learns about her father’s tannery business so he shows her how to unlock the safe. One day when her mother left, she killed a pullet (I googled the term and apparently they are young hen) and collected its blood in a jelly jar. At three in the morning, Cathy’s house was on fire and one could stop it. Cathy’s parents’ remains are found, but Cathy is missing. One of the volunteers noticed that the family was locked in. The place was looted, and there was some blood, a blue hair ribbon, and Cathy’s necklace. In a few months the entire thing was just disregarded.Chapter 8 Reaction: While reading the chapter, I considered Cathy to be an excellent lawyer. Cathy must have done something to turn her latin teacher into enough of a wreck to kill himself. I did feel that something was fishy about James’ story and how it spread through town. When it was mentioned, it included the line …and no one could possibly imagine that Cathy had planted the story. This line led me to believe Cathy has some hidden purpose for spreading the false rumor throughout the town. Perhaps it was to secure her job as a teacher, or maybe she just did not like James, it was just food for thought at the time. Then when I read about Cathy’s house burning, I felt as if Cathy was involved with it somehow. Perhaps she used the pullet blood to create a fake murder scene to escape to Boston like she tried before.Chapter 9:Mr. Edwards lives in Boston in a great house and is a whoremaster. He is strict and whips the girls who misbehave. He recently lost some of his prostitutes from a train wreck, so he is looking for some new ones. Cathy showed up in Mr. Edwards’ office and does not want to hire a pretty girl as Cathy, so he decided to keep her all for himself. Cathy tells some lie about her father being dead and she has to pay off her farm’s interest as a reason to be a whore. Mr. Edwards would normally not believe anything a woman says, but he believes anything Cathy says, and personally calls her Catherine. Mr. Edwards’ wife noticed that her husband has been very gloomy letely. We find out that it was because he is in love with Cathy and he can not trust her. Cathy acts nice, but she keeps him insecure to make him afraid of leaving her. One night, he asks Cathy to have some champagne with him, and he got her drunk which made her show her true colors. Mr. Edwards really wants to believe Cathy is innocent, but he just can not. Mr. Edwards says they will be going to Connecticut, and Cathy is going to work. Cathy does not want to go, but Mr. Edwards threatens her and she agrees. Mr. Edwards’ plan was to beat Cathy and make her work until he can throw her out, but instead he finds a secluded place, gets rid of her knife, and beats her He returns home and returns to being a normal man. Cathy finds a way to crawl to his porch and then she faints. Chapter 9 reaction:While reading chapter 9, I knew that Cathy used the fake murder scene in chapter 8 to go to Boston in this chapter. While Cathy was smart in manipulating Mr. Edwards, I feel that he was completely justified in beating her to a pulp. In fact, I felt somewhat bad for Mr. Edwards because Cathy was siphoning money from him, and use EMOTIONS to make him have an internal crisis which let Cathy do whatever she pleased. She used something that humans can not control in order to do what she pleased, which may have been smart, but it was incredibly unfair for Mr. Edwards; Her manipulation even left Mr. Edwards sobbing on the toilet once. If I were him, I would have sent her back to her hometown after she got beaten just to add insult to injury.Chapter 10:We see Charles and Adam are together again. The both of them are not the best roommates, and they start to get somewhat tense. Even though Charles is rich, he still wakes up early to tend to the farm. Charles and Adam got in a fight, and Adam walked out. Eight months later, Adam comes to the barn once again, and they live happily for two years until it starts becoming tense again. Adam talks about how he wants to go to California because he heard that he heard it is the most amazing place ever. Adam does not know what to do with himself. The tension rises once more, and Adam leaves again. Three months later Adam sends Charles a postcard from Rio, then six months later one from Buenos Aires. Adam comes back, and the two have their usual fights with one another, and Adam turns thirty seven. Adam is confused about why Charles keeps the farm when he has so much money, so Charles said that he wanted the one hundred dollars he telegrammed to Adam repaid. The two talk, and temporarily cease the turmoil in their relationship.Chapter 10 reaction:While reading, I felt that Adam and Charles’ relationship was like the one you would see from two young siblings. Deep down they love each other, but sometimes they think irrationally and do something harsh, like leave for eight months. I do feel somewhat bad for Adam because he lost his purpose when he was discharged and Cyrus died. He is lost, now Charles, the one who beat him when he was young, has to give Adam some purpose. I do feel that eventually Charles will uncover the secret of Cyrus’ fortune, as he is already growing suspicious of where the money originated from.Chapter 11:Adam talks about travelling, and then Charles spots a person covered in mud and blood crawling up the steps. Adam makes Charles get a doctor, then he starts to treat the woman’s injuries. The woman is Cathy and her skull and jaw are cracked. Cathy is in a drugged sleep, and she starts to slowly remember Mr. Edwards. Cathy is forced to write down answers to the sheriffs answers and she says that she remembers nothing, not even her name. Everyone sides with Cathy, but Charles is suspicious. Adam was happy about Cathy recovering, but she felt that she was in trouble about something. Charles comes into her room, and Cathy asks why he does not like her. Charles says its because she reminds him of someone, and that he is almost