East of Eden Quotes

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East of Eden East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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East of Eden Quotes (showing 61-90 of 505)
“If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen . . . A great lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting--only the deeply personal and familiar.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“He learned that when people are very poor they still have something to give and the impulse to give it.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“You're going to pass something down no matter what you do or if you do nothing. Even if you let yourself go fallow, the weeds will grow and the brambles. Something will grow.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“We all have that heritage, no matter what old land our fathers left. All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It's a breed - selected out by accident. And so we're overbrave and overfearful - we're kind and cruel as children. We're overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We're oversentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic - and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? We eat too much. We have no taste, no sense of proportion. We throw our energy about like waste. In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without an intervening culture. Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture?”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality! The only drawback in that freedom is that without it one would not be a human. One would be a monster.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“But 'Thou mayest!'! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“for how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can remember only that you had them.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“It's because I haven't courage,' said Samuel. 'I could never quite take the responsibility. When the Lord God did not call my name, I might have called his name - but I did not. There you have the difference between greatness and mediocrity. It's not an uncommon disease. But it's nice for a mediocre man to know that greatness must be the loneliest state in the world.'

'I'd think there are degrees of greatness,' Adam said.

'I don't think so,' said Samuel. 'That would be like saying there is a little bigness. No. I believe when you come to that responsibility the hugeness and you are alone to make your choice. On one side you have warmth and companionship and sweet understanding, and on the other - cold, lonely greatness. There you make your choice. I'm glad I chose mediocrity, but how am I to say what reward might have come with the other? None of my children will be great either, except perhaps Tom. He's suffering over the choosing right now. It's a painful thing to watch. And somewhere in me I want him to say yes. Isn't that strange? A father to want his son condemned to greatness! What selfishness that must be.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“My father said she was a strong woman, and I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is almost indestructible.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer -- and what trees and seasons smelled like -- how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Sometimes when she was alone, and she knew she was alone, she permitted her mind to play in a garden, and she smiled.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I am sifting my memories, the way men pan the dirt under a barroom floor for the bits of gold dust that fall between the cracks. It's small mining-- small mining. You're too young a man to be panning memories, Adam. You should be getting yourself some new ones, so that the mining will be richer when you come to age.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“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...Why, that makes a man great...He can choose his course and fight it through and win...I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed - because 'Thou mayest'. ch 24”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I wonder how many people I have looked at all my life and never really seen.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“It is argued that because they believed thoroughly in a just, moral God they could put there faith there and let the smaller insecurities take care of themselves. But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potential moral units- because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coat-tails.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There's a punishment for it and it's usually crucifixion.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“[He] fell right into the oldest conviction in the world-- that the girl you are in love with can't possibly be anything but true and honest.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Maybe we all have in us a secret pond where evil and ugly things germinate and grow strong. But this culture is fenced, and the swimming brood climbs up only to fall back. Might it not be that in the dark pools of some men the evil grows strong enough to wriggle over the fence and swim free? Would not such a man be our monster, and are we not related to him in our hidden water? It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“...Samuel rode lightly on top of a book and he balanced happily among ideas the way a man rides white rapids in a canoe. But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. there is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill?”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Riches seem to come to the poor in spirit, the poor in interest and joy. To put it straight - the very rich are a poor bunch of bastards”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar - if he is financially fortunate.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Regarding "thou mayest":
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There's no godliness there.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Do you take pride in your hurt?' Samuel asked. 'Does it make you seem large and tragic? . . . Maybe you're playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience . . . there's all that fallow land, and here beside me is all that fallow man. It seems a waste. And I have a bad feeling about waste because I could never afford it. Is it a good feeling to let your life lie fallow?”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Act out being alive, like a play. And after a while, a long while, it will be true.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Lord, how the day passes! It's like a life - so quickly when we don't watch it and so slowly when we do.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“For the world was changing, and sweetness was gone, and virtue too. Worry had crept on a corroding world, and what was lost- good manners, ease and beauty? Ladies were not ladies anymore, and you couldn't trust a gentleman's word.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden

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