This exercise was inspired by an assignment from a class I took at Webster the Spring of 2008. The class was titled “Point of View.” The assignment was to rewrite Genesis from the point of view of Adam, Eve, God or Satan/the serpent, and to experiment with how the story changed based on who was telling it.
With this post I’ve taken the exercise a little farther. As well as experimenting with changes in the story of Genesis, I also wanted to experiment with voice, tone, and character expression. In addition to this, I’ve also re-written the story using the points of view from the four characters mentioned earlier. Each character will have his or her own separate post. At the end of the post, I’ll clarify who it was talking, but hopefully by then it should be obvious.
On a side note, I’m aware that Genesis is a religious story, and I don’t mean for these exercises to express any viewpoints on God, religion, etc. This is just an experiment with point of view, character, and voice; and should only be viewed as such.
I learned, or rather, relearned cruelty from the apple, and that’s my most effective tool as a woman. This isn’t to say I like using it—cruelty is just the most effective.
I learned a lot of other things from the apple, too; like life, because I had a concept of death; pleasure, because of pain; joy, because of sorrow. They’ll say Eden was a paradise, and they’ll be right in the sense that ignorance will bring bliss. That’s what Eden was: Ignorance.
Adam blames himself for the Fall, because he slapped me. While that accelerated things, I think I would’ve been tempted anyway. Before knowledge, I’d looked forward to being alone. I was discontented with our union, I just didn’t realize what I was feeling until the apple gave me a word for it. I still loved Adam, but his being in charge didn’t feel right. We were different, we are different, but I don’t think his qualities are inherently superior to mine. Adam’s leadership felt imposed, on both of us. Considering that, it was only a matter of time before one of us went running to the tree of knowledge.
After Adam hit me, I was a mix of his prisoner and his personal goddess. He never mistreated me after that slap, and I doubt he ever will again—just like I won’t ever tear him from the inside again. But, in the days following his outburst, he wouldn’t let me out of sight. He wouldn’t sleep unless I was tight in his arms. He refused to let me do any of the heavier work around the Garden, but he became far more commanding in his tone, in his requests. I began to long for a message from the Creator, just so I could be by myself. But He held his silence, so I was left to find my own means of getting relief.
It took me a full day and a full night to form a plan. The morning after my sleepless night of plotting, while Adam was weeding and I was sitting nearby per his command, I put my plan into action. “Adam,” I said. “I would like to present a gift to you.”
Adam straightened away from his work to look at me. “A gift?”
“What would you like to present me with?”
“I should like to surprise you.” Adam’s face portrayed his dislike of my plan, but I was expecting this of him. “I won’t wander far,” I said. “And it would please me so to bring you an unexpected joy, especially because I’m so useless in this work.” This wasn’t true—I was able to weed just as well as Adam. He’d refused my help since hitting me, claiming my frailty as a woman for his reasoning. But I did mean to gather together treasures from the garden for him. I meant to take my time with it. I looked at him and smiled with just a corner of my lip—beseeching and submissive, as he preferred.
“All right,” said Adam. “But you must be back before the sun reaches its peak.”
I smiled fully. “Of course.” I kissed him before I left.
I idled through the garden, and as you must suspect I came to the tree of knowledge. My first impulse wasn’t to eat one of the apples of the tree; it was to take an apple to Adam. There was no maliciousness in this intent—I hadn’t any concept of death or damnation—I just thought, if Adam had the knowledge of the tree, he might know how I felt. He would understand the discontent, the confusion, the repression, and maybe things would be better between us. Maybe we’d be equal.
But, the Creator had forbidden these fruits, so I abandoned that impulse. It was quickly replaced by another. “Tempting, aren’t they?” The voice which spoke was none I’d heard before, and it caused my flesh to shiver. I turned to face the speaker, but saw nothing.
“Show yourself,” I said, “so that I might know what you are.”
A serpent writhed out of the shadows. Even in my ignorance, I felt that the serpent wasn’t itself; as though something else were speaking through it. I didn’t have time to contemplate this, for the serpent spoke again. “If you want to know what I am, Lovely Eve, why not eat of the tree of knowledge?”
“The tree is forbidden.”
“Oh? By whom?”
“By the Creator.”
“And did you hear the tree was forbidden from the Creator’s own essence?”
“Adam told me.” Before I spoke them, the words seemed strong, irrefutable. But hearing them aloud, I realized their fallibility. Adam had already spoken of things contrary to what I knew was truth. He always sent me away when a heavenly messenger came. What if Adam had already eaten an apple? What if his superiority derived from his knowledge?
“Adam told you,” the serpent said. “That’s reliable, is it?”
I wasn’t concerned with the snake. I glanced back at the tree, at the apples, with the hope that there would be no evidence against Adam. The tree was so abundant with fruit, it was impossible to tell if one had been snatched. “There is one way to know,” said the serpent.
I approached the tree, and picked an apple. I held it to my face; the smell was sweet, like any apple can be. But I could feel my temples relax, as if the scent was enough to let my mind slip from its confines. I opened my mind and licked the apple. Half understood images came to me. I wanted more, and took a bite. Oh, the beauty of those realizations was like none other I’d possessed. I was alive. Everything was alive, it existed. One day, it wouldn’t exist anymore. One day, everything would die. The beautiful works of the Creator would be engulfed by the stars, and then darkness. And it would be again. And end again. And again and again, but in the meantime, everything would die. I would die. Adam would die. We would all die. Oh, Adam. I had to be with Adam. We’d already wasted so much time.
I turned to run to him, stopped, and snatched another apple. When I found Adam, I threw my arms around his shoulders and wept.
“Eve, what . . . why?”
I couldn’t speak, but I released him and peered into his face. I held his cheek with my free hand. When I got my breath back, I said “You are so wonderful.”
Adam looked to the hand that held the apple. “You didn’t.”
“Adam, it’s so wonderful. We’re alive.”
“These are forbidden.” He grabbed my wrist, with the intent of wrenching the apple from me, and it hurt. I pulled away, and he let me go. “Eve, give that to me. We must go to the Creator, we must help you.”
I backed away. “Help me? I have knowledge. You don’t even understand what you’re saying . . . just smell it!” I held to apple out to him, but he didn’t even look at it.
“Eve, you will obey me.” I saw the look in his eyes as he spoke. Those words made him as sick as they made me. He found them to be as false as I did. I could have addressed that instead—I didn’t.
“And if I don’t? What shall you do, husband? Beat me once more?” Adam stopped approaching me, and I could see the hurt in his eyes. My words had slapped him, just as his hand had slapped me. But, unlike Adam, I refused to cease beating him. “Perhaps you’d like to pick a reed first. That would be an effective tool for teaching me obedience when it cuts into my skin. Perhaps you could just force your urges on me, like your authority? After all, I’m only Eve, when have my desires mattered?” I was crying. The pain I was causing Adam echoed within me, as in the days of our oneness. But I couldn’t stop hurting him. “I found something wonderful, and beautiful, and grotesque and . . . and the first desire I had upon my discovery . . . the first thought that entered my head since this enlightenment . . . is that I wanted nothing more than to share it, with you. One thing, Adam, the only thing I ever asked of you . . . and you refuse it.” I threw the apple at his feet. “I’m your wife. But I guess you’re just too frightened to do this one, thing, for the woman you’ve wedded.”
I turned away. I couldn’t look at his face. If my words had acted as his fists could, I would’ve have beaten him bloody. I knew, at that moment, I could never, never again speak for the sake of cruelty to Adam. This isn’t to say I’ve never spoken freely with him since—I’ve just never again spoken with the sole intention of hurting him.
I stood there, holding myself and silently sobbing, for a long while. I thought Adam had already left, to find the Creator so they could purge me of knowledge. I dug my nails into my skin. Let them try. I wouldn’t be cruel to Adam ever again, but they would not wrench this knowledge from me.
Then I heard a crunch. I looked over my shoulder, then turned. Adam held the apple, a bite had been taken and he’d just swallowed. He stared at me, as if this was the first time he’d actually seen me. “Oh, God. Eve.”
We embraced, weeping and laughing in hysteria. We found each other again, just as in the days when we’d been one. But we weren’t lonely, or ignorant. We were free. Adam said, once, that it wasn’t as if we’d been granted anything—it felt as if we’d been unlocked.
After we’d been sobered somewhat, and we lay in each other’s arms, Adam spoke. “The Creator will learn of this.”
“If He doesn’t know already.”
“It is possible for Him to . . . reverse this, probably.”
“Yes. If He saw it fit.”
“Would you, Eve?”
I sat up and looked down at Adam. He smiled. “I wouldn’t either,” he said. I rested my cheek back on his chest, listened to his breathing, the faint thump of his heart. “I would almost say,” said Adam, “that the Creator forbade knowledge because we would question Him.” I smiled, but said nothing to that. Our talk moved on to migration—we no longer wanted to be confined to Eden. We wanted our lives, our deaths, our pleasures, our pains, our joys, our sorrows. We wanted to be human.
For those of you who may not be sure, this is Eve.