The authors’ original words do their work more justice than any book review I write, and when grouped together, the quotes become atmospheric of the state they are set in. I hope you enjoy this addition of a “Favorite Quotes” series to my Andrea Reads America coverage.
From Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
“It was a savagely red land blood-colored after rains, brick dust in droughts, the best cotton land in the world.”
“He found poker the most useful of all Southern customs, poker and a steady head for whisky.”
“‘How closely women clutch the very chains that bind them!'”
“‘Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.'”
“The soft green grasses where she had sat were cut to bits by heavy cannon wheels.”
“‘I am afraid of facing life without the slow beauty of our old world that is gone.'”
“She had become what Grandma Fontaine had counseled against, a woman who had seen the worst and so had nothing else to fear.”
“Southerners can never resist a losing cause.”
“She wasn’t going to sit down and patiently wait for a miracle to help her. She was going to rush into life and wrest from it what she could.”
“Why, why, her mind stuttered, I believe women could manage everything in the world without men’s help — except having babies, and God knows, no woman in her right mind would have babies if she could help it.”
“To her mind there were few, if any, qualities that outweighed gumption.”
From The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“Miss Celie, You better hush. God might hear you.
Let ‘im hear me, I say. If he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place, I can tell you.”
“God love admiration.
You saying God vain? I ast.
Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
“Well, I say, we all have to start somewhere if us want to do better, and our own self is what us have to hand.”
From The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
“It was a relief to crumb the table. Crumbing the table gave one time to think, and if Miss Willerton were going to write a story, she had to think about it first.” (from “The Crop”)
“He had come to live with her because Pitman where they were raised was not there any more. All the people who had lived in Pitman had had the good sense to leave it, either by dying or by moving to the city.” (from “A Stroke of Good Fortune”)
“In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.” (from “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”)
“‘She would of been a good woman,’ The Misfit said, ‘if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life’.'” (from “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”)
“She didn’t turn on the electric light but let the darkness collect and make the room smaller and more private.” (from “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”)
“God made me thisaway and I don’t dispute hit.” (from “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”)
“He had worked on the box a long time, and when he finished it he had scratched on the top, MASON TARWATER, WITH GOD, and had climbed into it where it stood on the back porch and had lain there for some time, nothing showing but his stomach which rose over the top like overleavened bread.” (from “You Can’t Be Any Poorer Than Dead”)
“‘It’s too much of you for the box,’ Tarwater said. ‘I’ll have to sit on the lid or wait until you rot a little.'” (from “You Can’t Be Any Poorer Than Dead”)
“They were box-jawed old ladies who looked like George Washington with his wooden teeth in.” (from “The Partridge Festival”)
“He had written a note and pinned it in his pocket. IF FOUND DEAD SHIP EXPRESS COLLECT TO COLEMAN PARRUM, CORINTH, GEORGIA.” (from “Judgement Day”)
I have seen many things that you all have not seen. The thousands of immigrants who’d be glad to fight for the Yankees for food and a few dollars, the factories, the foundries, the shipyards, the iron and coal mines — all the things we haven’t got. Why, all we have is cotton and slaves and arrogance. They’d lick us in a month.
– Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Set in a small Georgia town, a deaf mute, Mr. Singer, loses his best friend (another deaf-mute) to a mental institution. Soon, when Mr. Singer is alone without his companion, four loners in town begin to befriend him. They, passionate but unable to direct their passion, are drawn to Mr. Singer’s tranquility. He listens. Not with his ears, but to them, with his heart.
These four townspeople — a young girl, Mick, who has an “inside room” in her mind where she retreats to think about music; a wanderer, Jake, spreading the word of I know not what; an African American doctor, Dr. Copeland, who mistrusts all white people but Mr. Singer; and Biff, the cafe owner who seems curious more than anything else — each of them wants. Each of them is hungry. Each of them seeks something from Mr. Singer.
In January she began a certain very wonderful piece called ‘This Thing I Want, I Know Not What.’ It was a beautiful and marvelous song — very slow and soft.
Each loner, except Biff, needs Mr. Singer. They pour their souls out to him, and each feels Mr. Singer gets them, when really he is just a kind man who listens:
He had agreed with each of them in turn, though what it was they wanted him to sanction he did not know. And Mick — her face was urgent and she said a good deal that he did not understand in the least.
In being listened to, these lost passionate people feel what they think is love for Mr. Singer. But can it be? They know nothing of him, and each of them projects onto him their own thoughts and feelings, making him the same as them, because he has no voice to tell them otherwise. And they don’t ask.
Mr. Singer, likewise, has a friend like this — a friend whom he needs, but who doesn’t reciprocate. And all of these needers, they want and desire and have big feelings in them, each has a fire, but they don’t know what to do with it or what it is, and so they lay it all on someone else, thinking that person has the answer. They hunt, always hunt, for companionship, to be listened to, to be understood.
Like the characters in this book, I felt like I was on the edge of something when I finished. The end threw me though. I am this close to understanding what happened at the end, but I need a book buddy to help me hunt it’s meaning.