East of Eden - Glossary of Cultural References

Setting | Character Summaries| Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception
Cultural References


IWW: IWW stands for the Industrial Workers of the World, an international union which achieved the height of its membership and power in the early 1920s.  Colloquially, they were known as the Wobblies and were primarily focused on promoting the interests of the world’s growing class of industrial workers.

Woodmen of the World:  fraternal organization founded in 1890 which also functions as a private insurance company for its members.

Bindle-stiffs: colloquial for migrant workers; hoboes.

Paregoric:  18th and 19th century home remedy with varied uses (diarrhea, cough suppressant).  Main ingredient is opium.  Was available as an over the counter drug in the United States until 1973, when it was classified as a narcotic and is now only available by prescription.

Iron Wine Tonic: a tonic used to regain strength.  Contained wine and iron citrate.

Lydia Pinkham: an herb and alcohol based tonic name after its inventor. Used to alleviate menstrual pains.

Carbolic Acid: also known as phenol.  In small doses, is used in the production of many common cosmetic products. In large doses, it is a poison.

Epsom Salts: magnesium and sulfur compound.  Can be used as a laxative, but is also used for bath salts.

Castor Oil: odorless and tasteless oil from the Castor plant. Was a popular home remedy for constipation.

Model T:  first mass produced American automobile by Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company. Fifteen million Model Ts were produced between 1908-1927.

Magneto:  an electrical generator. For the Model T, a flywheel magneto produced alternating currents of electricity to a coal and could be considered the equivalent of a modern day alternator.

Quartermaster Corps:  a logistical branch of the U.S. Army providing service support, such as material (including ammunition) and food distribution, and field services such as repairs for showers/laundry/clothing.

Faro: a card game.

Fan-tan: popular Chinese casino game similar to roulette.

Hayburner: slang name for a horse.


Setting | Character Summaries| Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception
Cultural References