“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

A personal project

The novels presented to 15 and 16 year old students as part of their GCSE English Literature qualification are usually dated, lengthy and complex. As a result its audience cannot relate to the stories and reading becomes a tedious task
for teenagers.

Create a piece of information design that engages students in the classic narrative, East of Eden.


East of Eden is a classic narrative by John Steinbeck. The story is epic, spanning three generations over it’s 715 pages. This means that the novel is often challenging to follow and the complex themes it narrates could be daunting for students.

Information Design can be used to visualise key themes It was established in the project’s report that viewer
can understand complex messages without reading a single word when imagery is used effectively. The form of
information design to be used in this project is genealogy as family is an important theme of the novel. The central
family (the Trasks) can be confusing. The characters have very similar names and three generations feature within
the novel. Visuals will help to differentiate the characters.

Illustration will be used as a form of story-telling and a way to convey the information in a more engaging way for
the audience. The style should be contemporary to appeal to the young audience but also give a suggestion of the
19th century/early 20th century setting of the novel.

The family tree will appear in the front of the novel so it can be quickly and easily referred to by the reader. First
impressions are also very important. When students open the novel and are presented with lively visuals, they are
more likely to feel engaged and encouraged to read the novel.

The design should stretch the format of a typical family tree so that the connecting lines hold more meaning than
simply family lines. The illustration style will be sophisticated and detailed and the themes displayed in the novel
will exploit the power of illustration.