Eve reaches out to Adam, holding the fruit. In contrast to the female, the male is immediately susceptible to any sexual invitation. Observing the ease with which man accepts the forbidden fruit, woman has already learned that man succumbs easily to sexual temptation. The female ignites the flame of his desire by her mere presence or through the subtlest of means—a smile, flattery, the offering of an apple—and the male is immediately seduced. This theme of man's instant responsiveness runs through the Bible.
Hearing God moving about in the garden, man and woman panic and hide. God calls out to man, "Where are you?" He replies, "I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." God asks, "Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat of the tree from which I forbade you to eat?" Man's immediate defense is to blame the woman as well as God: "The woman you put at my side—she gave me of the tree, and I ate." God then turns to woman: "What is this you have done!" She replies, "The serpent duped me, and I ate."
Both man and woman shirk their own responsibility by blaming someone else. Man could have chosen to protect woman, who has just fed him and given him pleasure. He could have said that she did not force him to partake of the fruit. Woman could have explained that she chose to trade immortality in the Garden of Eden for knowledge and wisdom. Like man, however, she disavows any accountability for her action.
Eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is the first independent act by the human beings in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve cannot be said to have been fully aware of the extent of their transgression because they did not yet have knowledge of good and evil. They do, however, know that God has told them explicitly not to eat of that tree. In that respect, they are like children, who may understand that certain behavior is expected but do not fully understand why.
Like any concerned parent, God wants his children to learn to accept responsibility for their actions, however painful it may be. Indeed, God has lovingly provided all of the arrangements in the garden—a secure life, the edict against one tree—but also the capacity for free choice that will cause Adam and Eve to mature. He knows perfectly well where the humans are in the garden, but he asks his question, "Where are you?" to draw the story out of them and begin the process of moral development.