Quotes from East of Eden by John Steinbeck

You can boast about anything if it’s all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast. – page 4

Page 55

It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them. Page 133

.. Some men are friends with the whole world in their hearts, and there are others that hate themselves and spread hatred around like butter on hot bread. Page 144

Well, a man’s mind can’t stay in time the way his body does. Page 145

No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us. Page 268

… People are only interested in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen… A great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting – only the deeply personal and familiar. Page 270

The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. Page 270

… With rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt – and there is the story of mankind. Page 270

.. If rejection could be amputated, the human would not be what he is. Maybe there would be fewer crazy people. Page 270

The human is the only guilty animal. Page 271

Couldn’t a world be built around accepted truth? Couldn’t some pains and insanities be ripped out if the causes were known? Page 271

… A woman who knows all about men usually knows one part very well and can’t conceive other parts, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. P. 322

At this time I had to return the book to the library. Then I borrowed it again, but this time from a different library, and it was part of John Steinbeck: Novels 1942 – 1952 from The Library of America.

An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable in our times. p. 589

“It’s one of the great fallacies, it seems to me,” said Lee, “that time gives much of anything but years and sadness to a man.” p.708

A child may ask, “What is the world’s story about?” And a grown man or woman may wonder, “What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we’re at it, what’s the story about?” p.747

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 his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well – or ill? p 747

We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest with ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world. p 749

Nearly everyone has his box of secret pain, shared with no one. p. 815

“I guess this personal hide-and-seek is not unusual. And some people are ‘it’ all their lives – hopelessly ‘it’.” p. 824

“Laughter comes later, like wisdom teeth, and laughter at yourself comes last of all in a mad race with death, and sometimes it isn’t in time.” p. 835

“All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies… And we’re so overbrave and over fearful – we’re kind and cruel as children. We’re overfriendly and at the same time afraid of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We’re oversentimental and realistic.We are mundane and materialistic – and do you know of any other nations that acts for ideals? 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…” p. 913

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