30+ quotes from The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Quotes from The Orphan Master's Son

Adam Johnson ·  443 pages

Rating: (69.9K votes)


“But people do things to survive, and then after they survive, they can't live with what they've done.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Where we are from... [s]tories are factual. If a farmer is declared a music virtuoso by the state, everyone had better start calling him maestro. And secretly, he'd be wise to start practicing the piano. For us, the story is more important than the person. If a man and his story are in conflict, it is the man who must change.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Today, tomorrow," she said. "A day is nothing. A day is just a match you strike after the ten thousand matches before it have gone out.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“A name isn't a person,' Ga said. 'Don't ever remember someone by their name. To keep someone alive, you put them inside you, you put their face on your heart. Then, no matter where you are, they're always with you because they're a part of you.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Use your imagination only on the future, never on the present or the past.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Orphans are the only ones who get to choose their fathers, and they love them twice as much.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“In my experience, ghosts are made up only of the living, people you know are out there but are forever out of range”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“[I]n communism, you'd threaten a dog into compliance, while in capitalism, obedience is obtained through bribes.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Where we are from, he said, stories are factual. If a farmer is declared a music virtuoso by the state, everyone had better start calling him maestro. And secretly, he'd be wise to start practicing the piano. For us, the story is more important than the person. If a man and his story are in conflict, it is the man who must change....But in America, people's stories change all the time. In America, it is the man who matters.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“The next day, she was silent. For breakfast, she murdered an onion and served it raw.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“She's read every word I've written," he said. "That's the truest way to know someone's heart.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“The darkness inside your head is something your imagination fills with stories that have nothing to do with the real darkness around you.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“When the dogs returned, the Senator gave them treats from his pocket, and Jun Do understood that in communism, you'd threaten a dog into compliance, while in capitalism, obedience is obtained through bribes.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Like putting a name to my problems would solve anything”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“The light, the sky, the water, they were all things you looked *through* during the day. At night, they were things you looked *into*. You looked *into* the stars, you looked *into* dark rollers and the surprising platinum flash of their caps.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Inside is where the son and the father will always be holding hands.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“I wonder of what you must daily endure in America, having no government to protect you, no one to tell you what to do. Is it true you're given no ration card, that you must find food for yourself? Is it true that you labor for no higher purpose than paper money? What is California, this place you come from? I have never seen a picture. What plays over the American loudspeakers, when is your curfew, what is taught at your child-rearing collectives? Where does a woman go with her children on Sunday afternoons, and if a woman loses her husband, how does she know the government will assign her a good replacement? With whom would she curry favor to ensure her children got the best Youth Troop leader?”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“A name isn’t a person,” Ga said. “Don’t ever remember someone by their name. To keep someone alive, you put them inside you, you put their face on your heart. Then, no matter where you are, they’re always with you because they’re a part of you.” He put his hands on their shoulders. “It’s you that matter, not your names. It’s the two of you I’ll never forget.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“It's called a gui-tar. It's used to perform American rural music. It's said to be especially popular in Texas," he told her. "It's also the instrument of choice for playing 'the blues,' which is a form of American music that chronicles the pain caused by poor decision making.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“The autopilot is a hands-free piece of electronic wizardry. It's not some brutal application of electricity like one of the Pubyok's car batteries...Think of its probing as a conversation with the mind, imagine it in a dance with identity. Yes, picture a pencil and eraser engaged in a beautiful dance across the page. The pencil's tip bursts with expression - squiggles, figures, words - filling the page, as the eraser measures, takes note, follows in the pencil's footsteps, leaving only blankness in its wake. The pencil's next seizure of scribbles is perhaps more intense and desperate, but shorter lived, and the eraser follows again. They continue in lockstep this way, the self and the state, coming closer to one another until finally the pencil and the eraser are almost one, moving in sympathy, the line disappearing even as it's laid down, the words unwritten before the letters are formed, and finally there is only white.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“You can't leave me. I'm your captive," she said. "What good's a captive without her captor?”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“They’re about a woman whose beauty is like a rare flower. There is a man who has a great love for her, a love he’s been saving up for his entire life, and it doesn’t matter that he must make a great journey to her, and it doesn’t matter if their time together is brief, that afterward he might lose her, for she is the flower of his heart and nothing will keep him from her.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“. . . the only way to shake your ghosts was to find them . . .”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“. . . nobody every taught you loyalty . . .”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“All the lessons you need to learn in life, he said, will be taught to you by your enemy.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“They'd come back with stories of machines that handed out money and people who picked up dog shit and put it in bags. Jun Do never looked. He knew the televisions were huge and there was all the rice you could eat. Yet he wanted no part of it - he was scared that if he saw it with his own eyes, his entire life would mean nothing. Stealing turnips from an old man who'd gone blind from hunger? That would have been for nothing. Sending another boy instead of himself to clean vats at the paint factory? For nothing.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Real stories like this, human ones, could get you sent to prison, and it didn’t matter what they were about. It didn’t matter if the story was about an old woman or a squid attack—if it diverted emotion from the Dear Leader, it was dangerous.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“His mind and his flesh had separated, his brain had sat high and frightened above the mule of his body, a beast of burden that hopefully would make it alone over the treacherous mountain pass of Prison 33. But now as a woman ran a warm washcloth along the arch of his foot, the sensation was allowed to rise up, up into his brain , and it was okay to perceive again, to recognize forgotten parts of his body as they hailed him. His lungs were more than air bellows. His heart, he believed now, could do more than move blood.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“Had she never been hungry enough to eat a flower? Did she not know that you could eat daisies, daylilies, pansies, and marigolds? That hungry enough, a person could consume the bright faces of violas, even the stems of dandelions and the bitter hips of roses?”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


“What happened?” Buc asked him. “I told her the truth about something,” Ga answered. “You’ve got to stop doing that,” Buc said. “It’s bad for people’s health.”
― Adam Johnson, quote from The Orphan Master's Son


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About the author

Adam Johnson
Born place: in South Dakota, The United States
Born date July 12, 1967
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