East of Eden is a 1955 American period drama film directed by Elia Kazan and written by Paul Osborn, loosely based on the fourth and final part of the 1952 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. It stars James Dean as a wayward young man who, while seeking his own identity, vies for the affection of his deeply religious father against his favored brother, thus retelling the story of Cain and Abel. Appearing in supporting roles are Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet.


The plot line is loosely based on the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The story is set in 1917, during World War I, in the central California coastal towns of Monterey and Salinas. Cal and Aron are the young adult sons of a farmer and wartime draft board chairman, Adam Trask, with whom they live in the Salinas valley. Adam is a deeply religious Christian. Aron is pious, dutiful, and responsible, while Cal is moody, embittered, and thinks he is sinful. He believes his father loves only Aron. Adam told the boys their mother, Kate, died when they were infants. However, Cal discovers Kate operates a brothel in nearby Monterey, though he keeps this from Adam and Aron.