10+ quotes from The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos

Quotes from The 42nd Parallel

John Dos Passos ·  326 pages

Rating: (5.1K votes)


“The young man walks by himself, fast but not fast enough, far but not far enough (faces slide out of sight, talk trails into tattered scraps, footsteps tap fainter in alleys); he must catch the last subway, the streetcar, the bus, run up the gangplanks of all the steamboats, register at all the hotels, work in the cities, answer the wantads, learn the trades, take up the jobs, live in all the boardinghouses, sleep in all the beds. One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life is not enough. At night, head swimming with wants, he walks by himself alone.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error." -John Dos Passos”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“While there is a lower class I am of it, while there is a criminal class I am of it, while there is a soul in prison I am not free.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


Luther Burbank was born in a brick farmhouse in Lancaster Mass,
he walked through the woods one winter
crunching through the shinycrusted snow
stumbling into a little dell where a warm spring was
and found the grass green and weeds sprouting
and skunk cabbage pushing up a potent thumb,
He went home and sat by the stove and read Darwin
Struggle for Existence Origin of Species Natural
Selection that wasn't what they taught in church,
so Luther Burbank ceased to believe moved to Lunenburg,
found a seedball in a potato plant
sowed the seed and cashed in on Darwin’s Natural Selection
on Spencer and Huxley
with the Burbank potato.

Young man go west;
Luther Burbank went to Santa Rosa
full of his dream of green grass in winter ever-
blooming flowers ever-
bearing berries; Luther Burbank
could cash in on Natural Selection Luther Burbank
carried his apocalyptic dream of green grass in winter
and seedless berries and stoneless plums and thornless roses brambles cactus—
winters were bleak in that bleak
brick farmhouse in bleak Massachusetts—
out to sunny Santa Rosa;
and he was a sunny old man
where roses bloomed all year
everblooming everbearing
hybrids.

America was hybrid
America could cash in on Natural Selection.
He was an infidel he believed in Darwin and Natural
Selection and the influence of the mighty dead
and a good firm shipper’s fruit
suitable for canning.
He was one of the grand old men until the churches
and the congregations
got wind that he was an infidel and believed
in Darwin.
Luther Burbank had never a thought of evil,
selected improved hybrids for America
those sunny years in Santa Rosa.
But he brushed down a wasp’s nest that time;
he wouldn’t give up Darwin and Natural Selection
and they stung him and he died
puzzled.
They buried him under a cedartree.
His favorite photograph
was of a little tot
standing beside a bed of hybrid
everblooming double Shasta daisies
with never a thought of evil
And Mount Shasta
in the background, used to be a volcano
but they don’t have volcanos
any more.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“One phrase stuck in Fainy’s mind, and he repeated it to himself after he had gone to bed that night: It is time for all honest men to band together to resist the ravages of greedy privilege.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“...and the Sunday the bishop came you couldn't see Halley's Comet any more and you saw the others being confirmed and it lasted for hours because there were a lot of little girls being confirmed too and all you could hear was mumble mumble this thy child mumble mumble this thy child and you wondered if you'd be alive next time Halley's Comet came round”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“Too goddam many lawyers mixed up in this. Run the sonsobitches out. If they resists shoot ’em, that’s what I says to the Governor, but they’re all these sonsobitches a lawyers fussin’ everythin’ up all the time with warrants and habeas corpus and longwinded rigmarole. My ass to habeas corpus.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“but on account of the flag and prosperity and making the world safe for democracy, they were afraid to be with him, or to think much about him for fear they might believe him; for he said: While there is a lower class I am of it, while there is a criminal class I am of it, while there is a soul in prison I am not free.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“The twentieth century will be American. American thought will dominate it. American progress will give it color and direction. American deeds will make it illustrious. Civilization will never lose its hold on Shanghai. Civilization will never depart from Hongkong. The gates of Peking will never again be closed to the methods of modern man. The regeneration of the world, physical as well as moral, has begun, and revolutions never move backwards.”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


“U. S. A. is the slice of a continent. U. S. A. is a group of holding companies, some aggregations of trade unions, a set of laws bound in calf, a radio network, a chain of moving picture theatres, a column of stockquotations rubbed out and written in by a Western Union boy on a blackboard, a public-library full of old newspapers and dogeared historybooks with protests scrawled on the margins in pencil. U. S. A. is the world’s greatest rivervalley fringed with mountains and hills, U. S. A. is a set of bigmouthed officials with too many bankaccounts. U. S. A. is a lot of men buried in their uniforms in Arlington Cemetery. U. S. A. is the letters at the end of an address when you”
― John Dos Passos, quote from The 42nd Parallel


About the author

John Dos Passos
Born place: in Chicago, The United States
Born date January 14, 1896
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