John Steinbeck Quotes - Page 5 | Just Great DataBase

Cathy's lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit. Most liars are tripped up either because they forget what they have told or because the lie is suddenly faced with an incontrovertible truth. But Cathy did not forget her lies, and she developed the most effective method of lying. She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure. She knew two other methods also -- either to interlard her lies with truth or to tell a truth as though it were a lie. If one is accused of a lie and it turns out to be the truth, there is a backlog that will last a long time and protect a number of untruths.

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The church and the whorehouse arrived in the Far West simultaneously. And each would have been horrified to think it was a different facet of the same thing. But surely they were both intended to accomplish the same thing: the singing, the devotion, the poetry of the churches took a man out of his bleakness for a time, and so did the brothels.

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Ain’t many guys travel around together, he mused. I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.

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

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Look now -- in all of history men have been taught that killing of men is an evil thing not to be countenanced. Any man who kills must be destroyed because this is a great sin, maybe the worst we know. And then we take a soldier and put murder in his hands and we say to him, "use it well, use it wisely." We put no checks on him. Go out and kill as many of a certain kind or classification of your brothers as you can. And we will reward you for it because it is a violation of your early training.

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In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to live so that our death brings no pleasure to the world.

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To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

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George's voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before. 'Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to.

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Luck, you see, brings bitter friends.

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He had an idea that even when beaten he could steal a little victory by laughing at defeat.

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When you're a child you're the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people? They're only ghosts furnished for you to talk to.

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Yes, you will. And I will warn you now that not their blood but your suspicion might build evil in them. They will be what you expect of them…I think when a man finds good or bad in his children he is seeing only what he planted in them after they cleared the womb.""You can’t make a race horse of a pig.""No," said Samuel, "but you can make a very fast pig.

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And this you can know- fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.

67

He was born in fury and he lived in lightning. Tom came headlong into life. He was a giant in joy and enthusiasms. He didn't discover the world and its people, he created them. When he read his father's books, he was the first. He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day. His mind plunged like a colt in a happy pasture, and when later the world put up fences, he plunged against the wire, and when the final stockade surrounded him, he plunged right through it and out. And as he was capable of giant joy, so did he harbor huge sorrow.

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I wonder how many people I have looked at all my life and never really seen.

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The Western States nervous under the beginning change.Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, New Mexico,Arizona, California. A single family moved from the land.Pa borrowed money from the bank, and now the bank wantsthe land. The land company--that's the bank when it has land--wants tractors, not families on the land. Is a tractor bad? Isthe power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractorwere ours it would be good--not mine, but ours. If our tractorturned the long furrows of our land, it would be good.Not my land, but ours. We could love that tractor then aswe have loved this land when it was ours. But the tractordoes two things--it turns the land and turns us off the land.There is little difference between this tractor and a tank.The people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must thinkabout this.One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty carcreaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, asingle tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered.And in the night one family camps in a ditch and anotherfamily pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squaton their hams and the women and children listen. Here is thenode, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep thesetwo squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect eachother. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is thezygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is splitand from its splitting grows the thing you hate--"We lost ourland." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely andperplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a stillmore dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I havenone." If from this problem the sum is "We have a littlefood," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction.Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor areours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women;behind, the children listening with their souls to words theirminds do not understand. The night draws down. The babyhas a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother'sblanket--take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb.This is the beginning--from "I" to "we."If you who own the things people must have could understandthis, you might preserve yourself. If you could separatecauses from results, if you could know Paine, Marx,Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive.But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezesyou forever into "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we."The Western States are nervous under the beginingchange. Need is the stimulus to concept, concept to action.A half-million people moving over the country; a millionmore restive, ready to move; ten million more feeling thefirst nervousness.And tractors turning the multiple furrows in the vacant land.

64

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitant are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gambler and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, "Saints and angels and martyrs and holymen" and he would have meant the same thing.

64

Sometimes, a lie is told in kindness. I don't believe it ever works kindly. The quick pain of truth can pass away, but the slow, eating agony of a lie is never lost.

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Well, every little boy thinks he invented sin. Virtue we think we learn, because we are told about it. But sin is our own designing.

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He learned that when people are very poor they still have something to give and the impulse to give it.

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