Steinbeck is a writing god in my eyes. People always quote Hemingway, but I think it was Steinbeck who really captured the beauty of the written word and connected it to humanity.
The writing always speaks better for itself so here are my favorite quotes:
-“The hell with it! There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things people do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that’s as far as any man got a right to say.”
-“I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people. An’ sometimes I love ’em fit to burst, an’ I want to make ’em happy”
-“Maybe you wonder about me using bad words. We”, they ain’t bad to me no more. They’re jus’ words folks use, an’ they don’t mean nothing bad with ’em.”
-“Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.”
-The bank-the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.
-She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken.
-From her position as a healer, her hands had grown sure and cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become as remote and faultless in judgement as a goddess.
-And when a horse stops work and goes into the barn there is a life and vitality left, there is a breathing and a warmth, and the feet shift on straw, and the jaws champ on the hay, and the ears and eyes are alive. There is a warmth of life in the barn, and the heat and smell of life. But when a motor tractor stops, it is as dead as the ore it came from. The heat goes out of it like the living heat that leaves a corpse.
-“Grandpa buried his pa with his own hands, done it in dignity, an’ shaped the grave nice with his own shovel. That was a time when a man had a right to be buried by his own son an’ a son had the right to bury his own father.”
-“We’re proud to help. I ain’t felt so-safe in a long time. People needs-to help.”
-Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live-for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live-for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know-fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.
-And the families learned, although no one told them, what rights are monstrous and must be destroyed: the right to intrude upon privacy, the right to be noisy while the camp slept, the right of seduction or rape, the right of adultery and theft and murder. These rights were crushed, because the little worlds could not exist for even a night with such rights alive.
-“Like to jus’ stay here. Like to lay here forever. Never get hungry an’ never get sad. Lay in the water all life long, lazy as a brood sow in the mud.”
-“I’m jus’ pain covered with skin.”
-when a majority of people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need.
-repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.
-“if it was the law they was workin’ with, why we could take it. But it ain’t the law. They’re a-working away our spirits. They’re a-trying to make us cringe an’ crawl like a whipped bitch. They’re tryin’ to break us.”
-A million people hungry, needing the fruit-and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.
And the smell of rot fills the country.
-There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. there is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates-died of malnutrition-because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.
-“Jail house is a kinda funny place, ” he said. “Here’s me, been a-going into the wilderness like Jesus to try and find somepin. Almost got her sometimes too. But it’s in the jail house I really got her.”
“I been thinkin’ how it was in that government camp, how our folks took care a theirselves, an’ if it was a fight they fixed it theirself; an’ they wasn’t no cops wagglin’ their guns, but they was better order than them cops ever give. I been a-wonderin’ why we can’t do that all over. Throw out the cops that ain’t our people. All work together for our own thing-all farm our own lan’.”
-“Woman can change better’n a man,” ma said soothingly. “Woman got all her life in her arms. Man got it all in his head.”
-“Woman, it’s all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that. We ain’t gonna die out. People is goin’ on-changin’ a little, maybe, but we goin’ right on.”
-“Ever’thing we do-seems to me is aimed right at goin’ on. Seems that way to me. Even gettin’ hungry-even bein’ sick; some die, but the rest is tougher. Jus’ try to live the day, jus’ the day.”