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East of Eden › Quotes

East of Eden Quotes

All great and precious things are lonely.
And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.
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 indestructible.
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. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.
When a child first catches adults out -- when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just -- his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child's world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.
I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . 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. . . . 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?.
There's more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.
My imagination will get me a passport to hell one day.
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 so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.
A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.
People like you to be something, preferably what they are.
A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief.
It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them.
But 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.
We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in 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 is.
An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There's a punishment for it, and it's usually crucifixion.
When a man says he does not want to speak of something he usually means he can think of nothing else.
A man without words is a man without thought.
Perhaps the less we have, the more we are required to brag.
..it's awful not to be loved. It's the worst thing in the world...It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel.
It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
No one who is young is ever going to be old.
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.
Maybe-- maybe love makes you suspicious and doubting. Is it true that when you love a woman you are never sure-- never sure of her because you aren't sure of yourself?.
There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.
No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us.
Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy - that's the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.
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 shortcuts to love...We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in 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 is.
Don't you dare take the lazy way. It's too easy to excuse yourself because of your ancestry. Don't let me catch you doing it! Now -- look close at me so you will remember. Whatever you do, it will be you who do.
And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen.
They're a dark people with a gift for suffering way past their deserving. It's said that without whiskey to soak and soften the world, they'd kill themselves. (Irish).
I wonder how many people I have looked at all my life and never really seen.
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.
You can boast about anything if it's all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.
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.
The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.
But you must give him some sign, some sign that you love him... or he'll never be a man. All his life he'll feel guilty and alone unless you release him.
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.
He had an idea that even when beaten he could steal a little victory by laughing at defeat.
Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He learned that when people are very poor they still have something to give and the impulse to give it.
Act out being alive, like a play. And after a while, a long while, it will be true.
You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.
These too are of a burning color--not orange, not gold, but if pure gold were liquid and could raise a cream, that golden cream might be like the color of the poppies.
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.
As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.
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.
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.
You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes when she was alone, and she knew she was alone, she permitted her mind to play in a garden, and she smiled.
For how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can remember only that you had them.
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.
But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially 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 coattails.
It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There's a punishment for it and it's usually crucifixion.
[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.
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.
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?.
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.