“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
“You can't own a human being. You can't lose what you don't own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don't, do you? And neither does he. You're turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can't value you more than you value yourself.”
“She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it's there, because it can't hurt, and because what difference does it make?”
“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”
“Gimme hate, Lord,” he whimpered. “I’ll take hate any day. But don’t give me love. I can’t take no more love, Lord. I can’t carry it...It’s too heavy. Jesus, you know, you know all about it. Ain’t it heavy? Jesus? Ain’t love heavy?”
“And talking about dark! You think dark is just one color, but it ain't. There're five or six kinds of black. Some silky, some woolly. Some just empty. Some like fingers. And it don't stay still, it moves and changes from one kind of black to another. Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. What kind of green? Green like my bottles? Green like a grasshopper? Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. May as well be a rainbow.”
“See? See what you can do? Never mind you can’t tell one letter from another, never mind you born a slave, never mind you lose your name, never mind your daddy dead, never mind nothing. Here, this here, is what a man can do if he puts his mind to it and his back in it. Stop sniveling,’ [the land] said. ‘Stop picking around the edges of the world. Take advantage, and if you can’t take advantage, take disadvantage. We live here. On this planet, in this nation, in this county right here. Nowhere else! We got a home in this rock, don’t you see! Nobody starving in my home; nobody crying in my home, and if I got a home you got one too! Grab it. Grab this land! Take it, hold it, my brothers, make it, my brothers, shake it, squeeze it, turn it, twist it, beat it, kick it, kiss it, whip it, stomp it, dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, buy it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it, and pass it on – can you hear me? Pass it on!”
“It sounded old. Deserve. Old and tired and beaten to death. Deserve. Now it seemed to him that he was always saying or thinking that he didn't deserve some bad luck, or some bad treatment from others. He'd told Guitar that he didn't "deserve" his family's dependence, hatred, or whatever. That he didn't even "deserve" to hear all the misery and mutual accusations his parents unloaded on him. Nor did he "deserve" Hagar's vengeance. But why shouldn't his parents tell him their personal problems? If not him, then who? And if a stranger could try to kill him, surely Hagar, who knew him and whom he'd thrown away like a wad of chewing gum after the flavor was gone––she had a right to try to kill him too.
Apparently he though he deserved only to be loved--from a distance, though--and given what he wanted. And in return he would be...what? Pleasant? Generous? Maybe all he was really saying was: I am not responsible for your pain; share your happiness with me but not your unhappiness.”
“I wish I’d a knowed more people. I would of loved ‘em all. If I’d a knowed more, I would a loved more”
“In fact her maturity and blood kinship converted her passion to fever, so it was more affliction than affection. It literally knocked her down at night, and raised her up in the morning, for when she dragged herself off to bed, having spent another day without his presence, her heart beat like a gloved fist against her ribs. And in the morning, long before she was fully awake, she felt a longing so bitter and tight it yanked her out of a sleep swept clean of dreams.”
“It's a bad word, 'belong.' Especially when you put it with somebody you love ... You can't own a human being.”
“How come it can’t fly no better than a chicken?’ Milkman asked.
Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can’t nobody fly with all that [stuff]. Wanna fly, you got to give up the [stuff] that weighs you down.’
The peacock jumped onto the hood of the Buick and once more spread its tail, sending the flashy Buick into oblivion.”
“Nothing could be taken for granted. Women who loved you tried to cut your throat, while women who didn't even know your name scrubbed your back. Witches could sound like Katharine Hepburn and your best friend could try to strangle you. Smack in the middle of an orchid there might be a blob of jello and inside a Mickey Mouse doll, a fixed and radiant star.”
“Perhaps that's what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?”
“Every sentence, every word, was new to them and they listened to what he said like bright-eyed ravens, trembling in their eagerness to catch & interpret every sound in the universe.”
“Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly. 'There must be another one like you,' he whispered to her. 'There's got to be at least one more woman like you.”
“How come it can't fly no better than a chicken?"
"Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
“Where do you get the right to decide our lives? I'll tell you where. From that little hog's gut that hangs between your legs. Well, let me tell you something... you will need more than that. I don't know where you will get it or who will give it to you, but mark my words, you will need more than that.... You are a sad, pitiful, stupid, selfish, hateful man. I hope your little hog's gut stands you in good stead, and you take good care of it, because you don't have anything else.”
“Listen, baby, people do funny things. Specially us. The cards are stacked against us and just trying to stay in the game, stay alive and in the game, makes us do funny things. Things we can't help. Things that make us hurt one another. We don't even know why.”
“For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”
“Her passions were narrow but deep.”
“Truly landlocked people know they are. Know the occasional Bitter Creek or Powder River that runs through Wyoming; that the large tidy Salt Lake of Utah is all they have of the sea and that they must content themselves with bank, shore, beach because they cannot claim a coast. And having none, seldom dream of flight. But the people living in the Great Lakes region are confused by their place on the country’s edge - an edge that is border but not coast. They seem to be able to live a long time believing, as coastal people do, that they are at the frontier where final exit and total escape are the only journeys left. But those five Great Lakes which the St. Lawrence feeds with memories of the sea are themselves landlocked, in spite of the wandering river that connects them to the Atlantic. Once the people of the lake region discover this, the longing to leave becomes acute, and a break from the area, therefore, is necessarily dream-bitten, but necessary nonetheless.”
“Her mind traveled crooked streets and aimless goat paths, arriving sometimes at profundity, other times at the revelations of a three-year-old. Throughout this fresh, if common, pursuit of knowledge, one conviction crowned her efforts: ...she knew there was nothing to fear.”
“He can't value you more than you value yourself.”
“You think because he doesn't love you that you are worthless. You think because he doesn't want you anymore that he is right- that his judgement and opinion of you are correct. If he throws you out, then you are garbage. You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him. Hagar, don't. It's a bad word, 'belong.' Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love shouldn't be like that.”
“It was becoming a habit-this concentration on things behind him. Almost as though there were no future to be had. *Milkman*”
“Listen, baby, people do funny things. Specially us. The cards are stacked against us and just trying to stay in the game, stay alive and in the game, makes us do funny things. Things we can't help. Things that make us hurt one another. We don't even know why. But look here, don't carry it inside and don't give it to nobody else. Try to understand it, but if you can't, just forget it and keep yourself strong, man.”
“Bryn Mawr had done what a four-year dose of liberal education was designed to do: unfit her for eighty percent of the useful work of the world.”
“We know that poverty is unpleasant; in fact, since it is so remote, we rather enjoy harrowing ourselves with the thought of its unpleasantness. But don't expect us to do anything about it. We are sorry for you lower classes, just as we are sorry for a, cat with the mange, but we will fight like devils against any improvement of your condition. We feel that you are much safer as you are. The present state of affairs suits us, and we are not going to take the risk of setting you free, even by an extra hour a day. So, dear brothers, since evidently you must sweat to pay for our trips to Italy, sweat and be damned to you.”
“... everyone knew that all islands were worlds unto themselves, that to come to an island was to come to another world.”
“Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
“I made up my mind right then what I really wanted in my life. It was comfort of a home and a family. But more than that, I wanted love. I wanted love to surround me. I wanted to swim in it. I wanted to hold it in my hand like heated sand and pour it through my fingers so it covered my feet. I wanted to taste it, I wanted to smell it. I wanted to wrap myself up in it like a blanket and stay safe and warm inside of it forever. And I wanted to give it. I wanted to drown people in it. I wanted to love with all my heart and be loved just as much in return.”
“Most things are predestined, but some are just darn sheer luck, said Roaring Abel.”
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