“I think this is the best-known story in the world because it’s everybody’s story. I think it is the symbol story of the human soul. I’m feeling my way now—don’t jump on me if I’m not clear. The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears.
“I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for rejection, and with the crime guilt—and there is the story of mankind.
“I think that if rejection could be amputated, the human would not be what he is. Maybe there would be fewer crazy people. I am sure in myself there would not be many jails.
“It is all there—the start, the beginning. One child, refused the love he craves, kicks the cat and hides his secret guilt; and another steals so that money will make him loved; and a third conquers the world—and always the guilt and revenge and more guilt. The human is the only guilty animal.
“Now wait! Therefore I think this old and terrible story is important because it is a chart of the soul—the secret, rejected, guilty soul.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden