The Cup

“I don’t know whether I can accept things or not,” Lee said. “I’ve never had a chance to try. I’ve always found myself with some—not less uncertain but less able to take care of uncertainty. I’ve had to do my weeping—alone.”

“Weeping? You?”

He said, “When Samuel Hamilton died the world went out like a candle. I relighted it to see his lovely creations, and I saw his children tossed and torn and destroyed as though some vengefulness was at work…”

He went on, “I had to find out my stupidities for myself. These were my stupidities: I thought the good are destroyed while the evil survive and prosper.

“I thought that once an angry and disgusted God poured molten fire from a crucible to destroy or purify his little handiwork of mud.

“I thought I had inherited both the scars of the fire and the impurities which made the fire necessary—all inherited, I thought. All inherited. Do you feel that way?”

“I think so,” said Cal.

“I don’t know, Abra said.

Lee shook his head. “That isn’t good enough. That isn’t good enough thinking. Maybe…maybe you’ll come to know that every man in every generation is refired. Does a craftsman, even in his old age, lose his hunger to make a perfect cup—thin, strong, translucent?” He held his cup to the light. “All impurities burned out and ready for a glorious flux, and for that—more fire. And then either the slag heap or, perhaps what no one in the world ever quite gives up, perfection.” He drained his cup and he said loudly, “Cal, listen to me. Can you think that whatever made us—would stop trying?”

East of Eden, p. 598



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