30+ quotes from Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Quotes from Caleb's Crossing

Geraldine Brooks ·  306 pages

Rating: (53.2K votes)


“She was like a butterfly, full of color and vibrancy when she chose to open her wings, yet hardly visible when she closed them.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“They say the Lord's Day is a day of rest, but those who preach this generally are not women.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I felt the reckless abandon of one who knows she stands already among the damned. "Why not, then, another sin?”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“Does any woman ever count the grains of her harvest and say: Good enough? Or does one always think of what more one might have laid in, had the labor been harder, the ambition more vast, the choices more sage?”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“adult life is full of hardship, childhood should be free of it.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“Life is better than death. I know this. Tequamuck says it is the coward’s talk. I say it is braver, sometimes, to bend.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“At sunset, if I am near the water - and it is hard to be very far from it here -I pause to watch the splendid disc set the brine aflame and then douse itself in it's own fiery broth.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“He walked through the woods like a young Adam, naming creation. I learned to shape my mouth to the words—sasumuneash for cranberry, tunockuquas for frog. So many things grew and lived here that were strange to us, because they had not been in England. We named the things of this place in reference to things that were not of this place—cat briar for the thickets of vine whose thorns were narrow and claw-like; lambskill for the low-growing laurel that had proved poisonous to some of our hard-got tegs. But there had been no cats or lambs here until we brought them. So when he named a plant or a creature, I felt that I heard the true name of the thing for the first time.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I held it out and Caleb took it. This was the first book he had held in his hands. He made me smile, opening it upside down and back to front, but he touched the pages with the utmost care, as if gentling some fragile-boned wild thing. The godliest among us did not touch the Bible with such reverence as he showed to that small book.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I am not a hero. Life has not required it of me.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“...the surfeit of loss in my life has convinced me it will be easier to be grieved for than to grieve."

Bethia as an old woman about to die

p 257”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“He walked through the woods like a young Adam, naming creation.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“Only one god. Strange, that you English, who gather about you so many things, are content with one only.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I lifted the latch, and there he stood, dark and tall, the scholar's gown falling from his shoulders like the cloak of the Black Knight in the old tale. His arms were laden with boughs of apple blossom. He lifted a branch, high over my head, and shook it, so that the petals showered me, releasing a heady scent that promised spring.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“Is it ever thus, at the end of things? Does any woman ever count the grains of her harvest and say: Good enough? Or does one always think of what more one might have laid in, had the labor been harder, the ambition more vast, the choices more sage?”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“My mother was an excellent woman. Pious, virtuous. Kind. But she was not the intellectual equal of my father. Not by any means. I do not speak of book learning. I speak of a certain innate quality of mind, a superior understanding. Because she had it not, their companionship was - diminished. Father looked to his books, rather than to his wife.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I do think he hated him as one man will hate another who draws off the affection of a beloved.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“He had scooped up another handful of sand and stared at each grain as it fell through his fingers. 'You are like these. Each a trifling speck. A hundred, many hundreds—what matter? Cast them into the air. You cannot even find them when they land upon the ground. But there are more grains than you can count. There is no end to them. You will pour across this land, and we will be smothered. Your stone walls, your dead trees, the hooves of your strange beasts trampling the clam beds. My uncle sees these things, here and now. And in his trance, he sees that worse is coming. You walls will rise everywhere until they shut us out. You will turn the land upside down with your ploughs until all the hunting grounds are gone. This, and more, my uncle sees.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“When I looked at my hands and wrists, marred by the marks of small burns from cook pots and flying embers, every red weal or white pucker brings to my mind's eye that eternal fire, and the writhing masses of the damned, among whom I must expect to spend eternity.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I had come to think that the Wampanoag, who dealt so kindly with their babes, were wiser than we in this. What profit was there in requiring little ones to behave like adults? Why bridle their spirits and struggle to break their God-given nature before they had the least understanding of what was wanted of them?”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“To take a people who were traveling apace the broadway to hell, and to be able to turn them, and set their face to God. . . . It is what we must strive for.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“I was struck, as always, that a heathen poet from long ago should know so much of the human heart, and how little that heart changes, though great cities fall and new dispensations sweep away the old and pagan creeds.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“It galls me, when I catch a stray remark from the master, or between the older English pupils, to the effect that the Indians are uncommonly fortunate to be here.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“Moshup made this island He dragged his toe through the water and cut this land from the mainland." He went on then, with much animation, to relate a fabulous tale of giants and whales and shape-shifting spirits. I let hi speak, because I did not want to vex him, but also because I liked to listen to the story as he told it, with expression and vivid gesture. Of course, I thought it all outlandish. But... it came to me that our story of a burning bush and a parted sea might also seem fabulous, to one not raised up knowing it was true.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“At fifteen, I have taken up the burdens of a woman, and have come to feel I am one. Furthermore, I am glad of it. For I now no longer have the time to fall into such sins as I committed as a girl, when hours that were my own to spend spread before me like a gift.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“This morning, light lapped the water as if God had spilt a goblet of molten gold upon a ground of darkest velvet.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“From "Caleb's Crossing"--This is an excellent thought about family though it doesn't apply to me. I am lucky in my brothers.

"Now, of all times in my life, did I wish Caleb truly was my brother, rather than that selfish, imperious, weak-willed soul to whom fate had shackled me.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“You English palisade yourselves up behind 'must nots' and I commence to think it is a barren fortress in which you wall yourselves. - Caleb”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“Only one god. Strange, that you English, who gather about you so many things, are content with one only. And so distant, up there in the sky. I do not have to look so far. I can see my skygod clear enough, right there,’ he said, stretching out an arm towards the sun. ‘By day Keesakand. Tonight Nanpawshat, moon god, will take his place. And there will be Potanit, god of the fire....’ He prattled on, cataloguing his pantheon of heathenish idols. Trees, fish, animals and the like vanities, all of them invested with souls, all wielding powers. I kept a count as he enumerated, the final tally of his gods reaching thirty-seven. I said nothing. At first, because I hardly knew what to say to one so lost.
“But then, I remembered the singing under the cliffs. An inner voice, barely audible: the merest hiss. Satan’s voice, I am sure of it now, whispering to me that I already knew Keesakand, that I had already worshipped him many times as I bathed in the radiance of the sunrise, or paused to witness the glory of his sunset. And did not Nanpawshat have power over me, governing the swelling, salty tides of my own body, which, not so very long since, had begun to ebb and flow with the moon. It was good, the voice whispered. It was right and well to know these powers, to live in a world aswirl with spirits, everywhere ablaze with divinity.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


“His task was to survive and endure through the harsh winter months, winnowing his soul until it could cross to the spirit world. There, he would undertake the search for his guide, a god embodied in some kind of beast or bird, who would protect him throughout his life. His spirit guide would enlighten his mind and guide his steps in myriad ways, until the end of his life. In those cold woods, he would learn his destiny. He said that if the spirit guide came to him in the form of a snake, then he would gain his heart’s desire, and become pawaaw.
“I thought of the quarantine of Jesus, a similar harsh and lonely trial of character and purpose. But that vigil passed in searing desert, not snowy wood. And when, at the end, the devil came with his visions of cities and offers of power, Jesus shunned him. Caleb desired to bid him welcome.”
― Geraldine Brooks, quote from Caleb's Crossing


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About the author

Geraldine Brooks
Born place: in Sydney, Australia
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“We got some stupid fuckers,” Kauzlarich said after the inflatable doll had been tossed into a burn barrel and set on fire, which created a thick column of oily black smoke that rose over the center of the FOB. “We got what we got,” Cummings said—and what he and Kauzlarich were wondering was whether these first cracks were just the effects of war, or also the effects of an army forced to take more and more stupid fuckers. It was something they had been dealing with since they began forming the battalion. For several years, in order to meet recruiting goals, the army had been accepting an ever-increasing number of recruits who needed some kind of waiver in order to become soldiers. Without the waivers, those recruits would not have been allowed into the army. Some of the waivers were for medical problems and others were for low scores on aptitude tests, but the greatest percentage were for criminal offenses ranging from misdemeanor drug use to felonies such as burglary, theft, aggravated assault, and even a few cases of involuntary manslaughter. In 2006, the year the 2-16 was getting most of its soldiers, 15 percent of the army’s recruits were given criminal waivers. Most were for misdemeanors, but nearly a thousand were for some type of felony conviction, which was more than double the number granted just three years before. This”
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“The pleasure of despair. But then, it is in despair that we find the most acute pleasure, especially when we are aware of the hopelessness of the situation...
...everything is a mess in which it is impossible to tell what's what, but that despite this impossibility and deception it still hurts you, and the less you can understand, the more it hurts.”
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