They landed with no money, no equipment, no tools, no credit, and particularly with no knowledge of the new country and no technique for using it. I don’t know whether it was a divine stupidity or a great faith that let them do it. Surely such venture is nearly gone from the world
“You’re trying to take him away! I don’t know how you’re going about it. What do you think you’re doing?”
“The proofs that God does not exist are very strong, but in lots of people they are not as strong as the feeling that He does.”
And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?
Catherine was clever, but even a clever woman misses some of the strange corridors of man.
To hell with that rotten century! Let’s get it over and the door closed shut on it! Let’s close it like a book and go on reading! New chapter, new life. A man will have clean hands once we get the lid slammed shut on that stinking century. It’s a fair thing ahead. There’s no rot on this clean new hundred years. It’s not stacked, and any bastard who deals seconds from this new deck of years—why, we’ll crucify him head down over a privy. Oh but strawberries will never taste as good again and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
I don’t know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good.
Then a breeze would move her bright hair, or she would raise her eyes, and Adam would swell out in his stomach with a pressure of ecstasy that was close kin to grief.
Pidgin they expect, and pidgin they’ll listen to. But English from me they don’t listen to, and so they don’t understand it…That’s why I’m talking to you. You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.”
The church and the whorehouse arrived in the Far West simultaneously. And each would have been horrified to think it was a different facet of the same thing. But surely they were both intended to accomplish the same thing: the singing, the devotion, the poetry of the churches took a man out of his bleakness for a time, and so did the brothels.
It seemed to Samuel that Adam might be pleasuring himself with sadness.
One day Samuel strained his back lifting a bale of hay, and it hurt his feelings more than his back, for he could not imagine a life in which Sam Hamilton was not privileged to lift a bale of hay.
“We are descended from this. This is our father. Some of our guilt is absorbed in our ancestry. What chance did we have? We are the children of our father. It means we aren’t the first.”
“A great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last.”
The door was closed to men. It was a sanctuary where women could be themselves—smelly, wanton, mystic, conceited, truthful, and interested…At Dessie’s they were women who went to the toilet and overate and scratched and farted. And from this freedom came laughter, roars of laughter.
“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man…why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”
“This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul.”
“That’s what I hate, the liars, and they’re all liars…I love to rub their noses in their own nastiness.”
“Dear Lord...let me be like Aron. Don’t make me mean. I don’t want to be…I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to be lonely.”
All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal.
Where Aron was received, Cal was rebuffed for doing or saying exactly the same thing.
“Of course you may have that in you. Everybody has. But you’ve got the other too.”
“I send boys out…I sign my name and they go out. And some will die and some will lie helpless without arms and legs. Not one will come back untorn. Son, do you think I could take a profit on that?...I don’t want the money, Cal. And the lettuce—I don’t think I did that for a profit.”
“He’s crammed full to the top with every good thing and every bad thing.”