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Thou Mayest

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BC: We are left not knowing if Cal takes Adams last words to account. We don’t know how he ends up. I was left with the question in my head; did Cal move on to continue his life or did he stay in sorrow continuing to believe Aron’s death was his fault. We will never know.

FC: "Thou Mayest" By Katie Gadoua

1: “Thou Mayest” is a saying that one can choose their own destiny and rule over sin. This is shown in the characters Samuel, Adam, and Cal.

2: Samuel has to be dishonest in order to get through a day. Liza believes a lot of what Samuel does is sinful but when in reality it isn't that bad. Samuel lives his life the way he wants and chooses what he wants to do for himself. This shows where thou mayest comes to play in his life. He takes charge of his own life and does things for his and other people's benefit. One thing Samuel knows he has to do before leaving for Olives is to tell Adam about Cathy. He feels as though telling Adam will bring Adam out of his melancholy state and can start to live his life and choose his own destiny.

3: Samuel: “I think for once I will not be careful. Lee, if I am wrong—listen—if I am mistaken, I accept the responsibility and I will take what blame there is to take. Lee: “Are you sure your right?” Samuel: “Of course I’m not sure. Adam do you want the medicine. Adam: “Yes. I don't know what it is but give it to me.” Samuel: “Adam, Cathy is in Salinas. She owns a whorehouse, the most vicious and depraved in this whole end of the country” (Steinbeck 304) | -This is the first time Samuel takes a known risk for someone else's long term benefit. Before he would just hide stuff from Liza instead of actually facing her. Now he has faced the truth and faced the possibility of something going wrong just to help Adam and show Adam he can forget about Cathy.

4: Adam was in a continuous drought since Cathy shot and left him. All he did was sit around and took no part in the boys lives. Then one day when Samuel went to see Adam when he was getting ready to leave. Samuel told him he needed to get over Cathy leaving and start taking part in his sons’ lives. Adam finally snapped out of his trance and went to see Cathy for closure. He was able to start living his life again and take part in the Aron and Cal’s lives.

5: Adam: “I didn’t forget you, but now I can.” Kate: “What do you mean?” Adam: “Now I see you I mean. You know, I guess it was Samuel said I’d never see you, and it’s true. I remember your face but I had never seen it. Now I can forget it.” Kate: “You think you can?” Adam: “I know I can.” Kate: “Maybe you won’t have to. If you feel all right about everything, maybe we could get together.” Adam: “I don’t think so.” (Steinbeck 316-317) | -This quote shows the first step in Adams redemption back to reality. He finally faces Kate and puts her in her places. Adam finally gets her out of his head and from this point starts actually living his life.

6: As the story continues the role of thou mayest also continues in Adams life. Between Cathy’s and Aron’s death it had a significant impact on Adam. Even though Cathy left him I think he still loved her. As we know he loved Aron very much but between the two deaths he held together well. He didn’t go into a big state of depression; he didn’t let the deaths control his life. This shows he has accepted the fact of life that those close to you will at some point die and will no longer be with you; death is just a fact of life. Adam tries to get this point across to Cal.

7: “Adam looked up with sick weariness. His lips parted and failed and tried again. Then his lungs filled. He expelled the air and his lips combed the rushing sigh. His whispered word seemed to hang in the air: ‘Timshel’.” “His eyes closed and he slept.” (Steinbeck 601) | -Timshel was Adams last word. I think it left something for Cal to think about. Cal was taking Aron’s death to far by blaming it on himself. Adam knew it wasn’t Cal’s fault. Aron died in war and there was nothing Cal could have done.

8: Cal also lives by the belief of thou mayest. Even though Cal doesn’t know the idea or meaning of thou mayest he is still affected by it. He is categorized as one of the “C” characters, so we automatically relate him to Charles and Cathy who are thought of as the ‘evil’ characters. We would also assume him to only do wrong. The idea of thou mayest says that Cal has the freedom to control his own destiny, and the fact that he can be good if he wants to. At one point he even says that he wants to change and he doesn’t want to be mean anymore.

9: “Dear Lord, let me be like Aron. Don’t make me mean. I don’t want to be. If you will let everybody like me, why, I’ll give you anything in the world, and if I haven’t got it, why, I’ll go for to get it. I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to be lonely. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.” (Steinbeck 377) | -This quote shows that Cal really wants to change. As he says he doesn’t want to be mean or lonely. He wants to be good like Aron.

10: As the story continued Cal seemed to have lost the thought and belief of thou mayest. Cal is blaming himself for Aron’s death because out of anger he took Aron to see their mother. Seeing Cathy is what made Aron enlist. Cal’s guilt was overcoming his ability to choose his own destiny. His guilt was holding him back. Adam knew Cal wasn’t the cause for Aron’s death. Right before Adam died his last word was “Timshel”. I think he chose to have that be his last word for the sake of Cal. He didn’t want Cal to end up like he did in a state of depression for many years. Adam just wanted Cal to move on.

11: “Can you hear me, Father? Can you understand me? I did it; I’m responsible for Aron’s death and for your sickness. I took him to Kate’s. I showed him his mother. That’s why he went away. I don’t want to do bad things—but I do them.” (Steinbeck 593-594) | “He accused me. I know it. He said I’m a murderer.” (Steinbeck 595) | -Cal is convinced right off that his dad thinks he’s a murderer, when in reality he is not. In the last chapter it focuses a lot on Cal believing he was a murderer and left him thinking that’s what Adam thought. This is where Cal is letting it rule his life. I think he knows he didn’t murder Aron but wants to think it was his fault because he doesn’t know what else to do.

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  • By: Katie G.
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