25+ quotes from If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

Quotes from If Beale Street Could Talk

James Baldwin ·  197 pages

Rating: (5K votes)


“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Those kids aren't dumb. But the people who run these schools want to make sure they don't get smart: they are really teaching the kids to be slaves.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“I was in his hands, he called me by the thunder at my ear. I was in his hands: I was being changed; all that I could do was cling to him. I did not realize, until I realized it, that I was also kissing him, that everything was breaking and changing and turning in me and moving toward him.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“She knows Daddy better than I do. I think it's because she's felt since we were children that our Daddy maybe loved me more than he loves her. This isn't true, and she knows that now--people love different people in different ways--but it must have seemed that way to her when we were little. I look as though I just can't make it, she looks like can't nothing stop her. If you look helpless, people react to you in one way and if you look strong, or just come on strong, people react to you in another way, and, since you don't see what they see, this can be very painful. I think that's why Sis was always in front of that damn mirror all the time, when we were kids. She was saying, 'I don't care. I got me.' Of course, this only made her come on stronger than ever, which was the last effect she desired: but that's the way we are and that's how we can sometimes get so fucked up. Anyway, she's past all that. She knows who she is, or, at least, she knows who she damn well isn't.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Being in trouble can have a funny effect on the mind. I don't know if I can explain this. You go through some days and you seem to be hearing people and you seem to be talking to them and you seem to be doing your work, or, at least, your work gets done; but you haven't seen or heard a soul and if someone asked you what you have done that day you'd have to think awhile before you could answer. But at the same time, and even on the self-same day-- and this is what is hard to explain--you see people like you never saw them before.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“I guess it can’t be too often that two people can laugh and make love, too, make love because they are laughing, laugh because they’re making love. The love and the laughter come from the same place: but not many people go there”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Only a man can see in the face of a woman the girl she was. It is a secret which can be revealed only to a particular man, and, then, only at his insistence. But men have no secrets, except from women, and never grow up in the way women do. It is very much harder, and it takes much longer, for a man to grow up, and he could never do it at all without women. This is a mystery which can terrify and immobilize a woman, and it is always the key to her deepest distress. She must watch and guide, but he must lead, and he will always appear to be giving far more of his real attention to his comrades than he is giving to her. But that noisy, outward openness of men with each other enables them to deal with the silence and secrecy of women, that silence and secrecy which contains the truth of a man, and releases it. I suppose that the root of the resentment—a resentment which hides a bottomless terror—has to do with the fact that a woman is tremendously controlled by what the man’s imagination makes of her—literally, hour by hour, day by day; so she becomes a woman. But a man exists in his own imagination, and can never be at the mercy of a woman’s.—Anyway, in this fucked up time and place, the whole thing becomes ridiculous when you realize that women are supposed to be more imaginative than men. This is an idea dreamed up by men, and it proves exactly the contrary. The truth is that dealing with the reality of men leaves a woman very little time, or need, for imagination. And you can get very fucked up, here, once you take seriously the notion that a man who is not afraid to trust his imagination (which is all that men have ever trusted) if effeminate. It says a lot about this country, because, of course, if all you want to do is make money, the very last thing you need is imagination. Or women, for that matter: or men.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Time: the word tolled like the bells of a church. Fonny was doing: time. In six months time, our baby would be here. Somewhere, in time, Fonny and I had met: somewhere, in time, we had loved; somewhere, no longer in time, but, now, totally, at time’s mercy, we loved.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Don’t think I don’t know you love me. You believe we going to make it?”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“One of the most terrible, most mysterious things about a life is that a warning can be heeded only in retrospect: too late.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“We live in a nation of pigs and murderers.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Sanırım iki insanın hem gülmesi hem sevişmesi, güldükleri için sevişmeleri ve seviştikleri için gülmeleri pek az rastlanır bir durumdur. Sevmek ve gülmek hep aynı yerden gelir de, o noktaya pek çok kişi erişemez.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“I don't believe there's a white man in this country, baby, who can get his dick hard, without he hear some nigger moan.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“We held each other so close that we might indeed have been one body.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“Of course, I must say that I don't think America is God's gift to anybody – if it is, God's days have got to be numbered. That God these people say they serve– and do serve, in ways that they don't know– has got a very nasty sense of humor. Like you'd beat the shit out of Him, if He was a man. Or: if you were.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“...love brought you here. If you trusted love this far, don't panic now.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“There are tears on his face, his face or mine, I don't know. I kiss him where our tears fall. I start to say something. He puts one finger on my lips. He smiles his little smile.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“He grins again, and everything inside me moves. Oh, love. Love.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“These captive men are the hidden price for a hiden lie: the righteous must be able to locate the damned.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“...the righteous must be able to locate the damned.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“The baby was restless, and I was scared. It was almost time. I was so tired, I almost wanted to die. For a long time, because he was in solitary, I had not been able to see Fonny. I had seen him on this day. He was so skinny; he was so bruised: I almost cried out. To whom, where? I saw this question in Fonny's enormous, slanted black eyes–– eyes that burned, now, like the eyes of a prophet. Yet, when he grinned, I saw, all over again, my lover, as though for the first time.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“From my chair, I looked out my window, over these dreadful streets.

The baby asked,
'Is there not one righteous among them?”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“...they ain't never met nobody they didn't lie to and steal from.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


“And he suddenly takes the bag of tomatoes and smashes them against the nearest wall. Thank God the wall is blank, thank God it is now beginning to be dark. Thank God tomatoes spatter but do not ring.”
― James Baldwin, quote from If Beale Street Could Talk


About the author

James Baldwin
Born place: in Harlem, New York, The United States
Born date August 2, 1924
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