27+ quotes from Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

Quotes from Matterhorn

Karl Marlantes ·  663 pages

Rating: (29.7K votes)


“It was all absurd, without reason or meaning. People who didn't know each other were going to kill each other over a hill none of them cared about”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“He ran as he'd never run before, with neither hope nor despair. He ran because the world was divided into opposites and his side had already been chosen for him, his only choice being whether or not to play his part with heart and courage. He ran because fate had placed him in a position of responsibility and he had accepted the burden. He ran because his self-respect required it. He ran because he loved his friends and this was the only thing he could do to end the madness that was killing and maiming them.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Victory in combat is like sex with a prostitute. For a moment you forget everything in the sudden physical rush, but then you have to pay your money to the woman showing you the door. You see the dirt on the walls and your sorry image in the mirror.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Over time, continual bad news will discourage any civilian population, and Americans had the lowest tolerance on the planet for bad news.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“He lay before God as a woman opens herself to a man, with legs apart, stomach exposed, arms open. But unlike some women, he did not have the inner strength that allowed them to do such a thing without fear. There was no woman’s strength in Mellas at all.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“He thought of the jungle, already regrowing around him to cover the scars they had created. He thought of the tiger, killing to eat. Was that evil? And ants? They killed. No, the jungle wasn’t evil. It was indifferent. So, too, was the world. Evil, then, must be the negation of something man had added to the world. Ultimately, it was caring about something that made the world liable to evil. Caring. And then the caring gets torn asunder. Everybody dies, but not everybody cares.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“It won't hurt you. It's just to kill plants. It's called Agent Orange...and it won't bother humans.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Emotion constricted Hawke’s throat. He suddenly understood why the victims of concentration camps had walked quietly to the gas chambers. In the face of horror and insanity, it was the one human thing to do. Not the noble thing, not the heroic thing—the human thing. To live succumbing to the insanity, was the ultimate loss of pride.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“The kids filed quietly to the edge of the strip to wait for the helicopters. Other Marines stopped to watch them, wanting to say an encouraging word yet not daring to break into their private world — a world no longer shared with ordinary people. Some of them were experiencing the last hour of that brief mystery called life.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Mellas knew that Hawke was letting him squirm. Then, without looking up, Hawke said, 'Look, Mellas, in the Navy or Air Force they give you a medal for what the Marines call just doing their job. In the Marines you only get a medal for being braver than just doing your job." Then he looked at Mellas. 'You get in fixes where medals are handed out because you were unlucky and had to fix things, or because you were stupid and had to fix things. Be carful what you're wishing for.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Power was the ability to reward and punish. Henry could reward with money and drugs. He could punish by withholding money and drugs. A nice combination. Ultimately, however, Henry wielded the power of punishment held only by a self-selected few. He was willing to murder. China knew that if a man could kill someone, everyone knew that he could kill anyone. The only way to stand up to that kind of power was to be willing to die.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“But just below the grim tranquility he had learned to display, he cursed with boiling intensity the ambitious men who used him and his troops to further their careers. He cursed the air wing for not trying to get any choppers in through the clouds. He cursed the diplomats arguing about round and square tables. He cursed the South Vietnamese making money off the black market. He cursed the people back home gorging themselves in front of their televisions. Then he cursed God. Then there was no one else to blame and he cursed himself for thinking God would give a shit.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Ever'one here think it easy for me. I be this good little church boy from Mississippi with my good little church-goin' Mammy, and since I be this stupid country nigger with the big faith, I don't have no troubles. Well, it just don't work that way"..."I see my friend Williams get ate by a tiger,"..."I see Broyer get his face ripped off by a mine. What you think I do all night, sit around thankin' Sweet Jesus? Raise my palms to sweet heaven and cry hallelujah? You know what I do? You know what I do? I lose my heart." Cortell's throat suddenly tightened, strangling his words. "I lose my heart."..."I sit there and don't see any hope. Hope gone." Cortell was seeing his dead friends. "Then, the sky turn gray again in the east, and you know what I do? I choose all over to keep believin'. All along I know Jesus could be just some fairy tale, and I could be just this one big fool. I choose anyway." ..."It ain't no easy thing.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Mellas was transported outside himself, beyond himself. It was as if his mind watched eveything coolly while his body raced wildly with passion and fear. He was frightened beyond any fear he had ever known. But this brilliant and intense fear, this terrible here and now, combined with the crucial significance of every movement of his body, pushed him over a barrier whose existence he had not known about until this moment. He gave himself over completely to the god of war within him.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“He knew that all of them were shadows: the chanters, the dead, the living. All shadows, moving across this landscape of mountains and valleys, changing the pattern of things as they moved but leaving nothing changed when they left. Only the shadows themselves could change.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Emotion constricted Hawke’s throat. He suddenly understood why the victims of concentration camps had walked quietly to the gas chambers. In the face of horror and insanity, it was the one human thing to do. Not the noble thing, not the heroic thing—the human thing. To live, succumbing to the insanity, was the ultimate loss of pride.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“his heart would out-pace his feet and burst. His heart, his whole body, was overflowing with an emotion that he could only describe as love. He”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“So, too, was the world. Evil, then, must be the negation of something man had added to the world. Ultimately, it was caring about something that made the world liable to evil. Caring. And then the caring gets torn asunder. Everybody dies, but not everybody cares.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“His killing that day would not have been evil if the dead soldiers hadn’t been loved by mothers, sisters, friends, wives. Mellas understood that in destroying the fabric that linked those people, he had participated in evil, but this evil had hurt him as well. He also understood that his participation in evil, was a result of being human.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“them. Too much activity, right where the colonel”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Being human was the best he could do. Without man there would be no evil. But there was also no good, nothing moral built over the world of fact. Humans were responsible for it all.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“On the other hand, looking careless could just be privileged give-a-shit Ivy League attitude, like wearing duct tape on loafers and jeans with holes in them, knowing all along that they were headed straight to Wall Street or Washington and three-piece suits.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Dying this way was a better way to die because living this way was a better way to live. The”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“The fog hung thick and heavy as the kids formed into a single line on the south side of Helicopter Hill. Mellas felt as if the clouds above him were slabs of slate. The kids were fatigued and filled with despair at the insanity of it all. Yet they were all checking ammunition, sliding bolts back and forth, preparing to participate in the insanity. It was as if the veterans of the company, succumbing to this insanity, had decided to commit suicide. Mellas, sick with exhaustion, now knew why men threw themselves on hand grenades.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Running to join them, he felt overwhelming joy. It was as if he were coming home from a lashing winter storm to the warmth of his living room. The sky seemed brilliantly blue and clear, although he knew it was overcast. If he didn't move his legs faster, his heart would outpace his feet and burst. His heart, his whole body, was overflowing with an emotion that he could only describe as love.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“Hawke had learned long ago that what really mattered in combat was what people were like when they were exhausted.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


“You know what I do? I lose my heart.” Cortell’s throat suddenly tightened, strangling his words. “I lose my heart.” He took a deep breath, trying to regain his composure. He exhaled and went on quietly, back in control. “I sit there and I don’t see any hope. Hope gone.” Cortell was seeing his dead friends. “Then, the sky turn gray again in the east, and you know what I do? I choose all over to keep believin’. All along I know Jesus could maybe be just some fairy tale, and I could be just this one big fool. I choose anyway.” He turned away from his inward images and returned to the blackness of the world around him. “It ain’t no easy thing.”
― Karl Marlantes, quote from Matterhorn


About the author

Karl Marlantes
Born place: The United States
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