30+ quotes from The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Quotes from The Vegetarian

Han Kang ·  183 pages

Rating: (50.7K votes)


“The feeling that she had never really lived in this world caught her by surprise. It was a fact. She had never lived. Even as a child, as far back as she could remember, she had done nothing but endure. She had believed in her own inherent goodness, her humanity, and lived accordingly, never causing anyone harm. Her devotion to doing things the right way had been unflagging, all her successes had depended on it, and she would have gone on like that indefinitely. She didn't understand why, but faced with those decaying buildings and straggling grasses, she was nothing but a child who had never lived.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Why, is it such a bad thing to die?”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Time was a wave, almost cruel in its relentlessness”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“She was no longer able to cope with all that her sister reminded her of. She'd been unable to forgive her for soaring alone over a boundary she herself could never bring herself to cross, unable to forgive that magnificent irresponsibility that had enabled Yeong-hye to shuck off social constraints and leave her behind, still a prisoner. And before Yeong-hye had broken those bars, she'd never even known they were there.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“I want to swallow you, have you melt into me and flow through my veins.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“She's a good woman, he thought. The kind of woman whose goodness is oppressive.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“When a person undergoes such a drastic transformation, there's simply nothing anyone else can do but sit back and let them get on with it.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Life is such a strange thing, she thinks, once she has stopped laughing. Even after certain things have happened to them, no matter how awful the experience, people still go on eating and drinking, going to the toilet and washing themselves - living, in other words. And sometimes they even laugh out loud. And they probably have these same thoughts, too, and when they do it must make them cheerlessly recall all the sadness they'd briefly managed to forget.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“The feeling that she had never really lived in this world caught her by surprise. It was a fact. She had never lived. Even as a child, as far back as she could remember, she had done nothing but endure.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“This was the body of a beautiful young woman, conventionally an object of desire, and yet it was a body from which all desire had been eliminated. But this was nothing so crass as carnal desire, not for her—rather, or so it seemed, what she had renounced was the very life that her body represented.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“This was the body of a beautiful young woman, conventionally an object of desire, and yet it was a body from which all desire had been eliminated.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“The pain feels like a hole swallowing her up, a source of intense fear and yet, at the same time, a strange, quiet peace.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Look, sister, I'm doing a handstand; leaves are growing out of my body, roots are sprouting out of my hands...they delve down into the earth. Endlessly, endlessly...yes, I spread my legs because I wanted flowers to bloom from my crotch; I spread them wide...”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Yells and howls, threaded together layer upon layer, are enmeshed to form that lump. Because of meat. I ate too much meat. The lives of the animals I ate have all lodged there. Blood and flesh, all those butchered bodies are scattered in every nook and cranny, and though the physical remnants were excreted, their lives still stick stubbornly to my insides.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Sister,” Yeong-hye said, her voice low and calm as if intending to comfort her. Yeong-hye’s old black sweater gave off the faint scent of mothballs. When In-hye didn’t answer, Yeong-hye whispered one more time. “Sister…all the trees of the world are like brothers and sisters.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Or perhaps it was simply that things were happening inside her, terrible things, which no one else could even guess at, and thus it was impossible for her to engage with everyday life at the same time. If so, she would naturally have no energy left, not just for curiosity or interest but indeed for any meaningful response to all the humdrum minutiae that went on on the surface.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Such uncanny serenity actually frightened him, making him think that perhaps this was a surface impression left behind after any amount of unspeakable viciousness had been digested, or else settled down inside her as a kind of sediment.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“There's nothing wrong with keeping quiet, after all, hadn't women traditionally been expected to be demure and restrained?”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“the sight of her lying there utterly without resistance, yet armored by the power of her own renunciation, was so intense as to bring tears to his eyes.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“For the first time, she became vividly aware of how much of her life she had spent with her husband. It had been a period of time utterly devoid of happiness and spontaneity. A time that she'd so far managed to get through only by using up every last reserve of perseverance and consideration. All of it self-inflicted.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Her life was no more than a ghostly pageant of exhausted endurance, no more real than a television drama. Death, who now stood by her side, was as familiar to her as a family member, missing for a long time but now returned.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Perhaps the only things he truly loved were his images—those he’d filmed, or then again, perhaps only those he had yet to film.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Can only trust my breasts now. I like my breasts, nothing can be killed by them. Hand, foot, tongue, gaze, all weapons from which nothing is safe. But not my breasts. With my round breasts, I’m okay. Still okay. So why do they keep on shrinking? Not even round anymore. Why? Why am I changing like this? Why are my edges all sharpening–what am I going to gouge”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Only Yeong-hye, docile and naive, had been unable to deflect their father's temper or put up any form of resistance. Instead, she had merely absorbed all her suffering inside her, deep into the marrow of her bones. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, In-hye could see that the role that she had adopted back then of the hard-working, self-sacrificing eldest daughter had been a sign not of maturity but of cowardice. It had been a survival tactic.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“It called to mind something ancient, something pre-evolutionary, or else perhaps a mark of photosynthesis, and he realized to his surprise that there was nothing at all sexual about it; it was more vegetal than sexual.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“As for women who were pretty, intelligent, strikingly sensual, the daughters of rich families—they would only have served to disrupt my carefully ordered existence”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“Time was a wave, almost cruel in its relentlessness as it whisked her life downstream, a life she had to constantly strain to keep from breaking apart.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“I was convinced that there was more going on here than a simple case of vegetarianism.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“It melted in the rain ... it all melted ... I'd been just about to go down into the earth. There was nothing else for it if I wanted to turn myself upside down again, you see.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


“It seemed enough for her to just deal with whatever it was that came her way, calmly and without fuss.”
― Han Kang, quote from The Vegetarian


About the author

Han Kang
Born place: in Gwangju, Korea, Republic of
Born date November 27, 1970
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