The Birds

by

Daphne du Maurier

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Birds can help.
Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New York Review Books edition of The Birds published in 2008.
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The Birds Quotes

Perhaps, thought Nat, munching his pasty by the cliff’s edge, a message comes to the birds in autumn, like a warning. Winter is coming. Many of them perish. And like people who, apprehensive of death before their time, drive themselves to work or folly, the birds do likewise.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken (speaker)
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

Nat gazed at the little corpses, shocked and horrified. They were all small birds, none of any size; there must have been fifty of them lying there upon the floor. There were robins, finches, sparrows, blue tits, larks, and bramblings, birds that by nature’s law kept to their own flock and their own territory, and now, joining one with another in their urge for battle, had destroyed themselves against the bedroom walls or in the strife had been destroyed by him. Some had lost feathers in the fight; others had blood, his blood, upon their beaks.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

It was, Nat thought, like air raids in the war. No one down this end of the country knew what the Plymouth folk had seen and suffered. You had to endure something yourself before it touched you.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

The announcer’s voice was smooth and suave. Nat had the impression that this man, in particular, treated the whole business as he would an elaborate joke. There would be others like him, hundreds of them, who did not know what it was to struggle in darkness with a flock of birds.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken, The Radio Announcer
Related Symbols: The Wireless Radio
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

Nat thought to himself that “they” were no doubt considering the problem at that very moment, but whatever “they” decided to do in London and the big cities would not help the people here, three hundred miles away. Each householder must look after his own.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken, Mrs. Hocken / Nat’s Wife
Page Number: 73-74
Explanation and Analysis:

“I don’t want a gun,” said Nat, “but I’d be obliged if you’d run Jill home. She’s scared of the birds.”

He spoke briefly. He did not want to talk in front of Jill.

“OK,” said the farmer, “I’ll take her home. Why don’t you stop behind and join the shooting match? We’ll make the feathers fly.”

Jill climbed in, and turning the car, the driver sped up the lane. Nat followed after. Trigg must be crazy.

What use was a gun against a sky of birds?

Related Characters: Nat Hocken (speaker), Mr. Trigg (speaker), Jill Hocken
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

There was no further drone of aircraft, and the naval guns had ceased. “Waste of life and effort,” Nat said to himself. “We can’t destroy enough of them that way. Cost too heavy. There’s always gas. Maybe they’ll try spraying with gas, mustard gas. We’ll be warned first, of course, if they do. There’s one thing, the best brains of the country will be onto it tonight.”

Related Characters: Nat Hocken (speaker)
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

There was some law the birds obeyed, and it was all to do with the east wind and the tide.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken
Related Symbols: The East Wind
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

That was the line. Keep her busy, and the children too. Move about, eat, drink; always best to be on the go.

Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

Nat listened to the tearing sound of splintering wood and wondered how many million years of memory were stored in those little brains, behind the stabbing beaks, the piercing eyes, now giving them this instinct to destroy mankind with all the deft precision of machines.

Related Characters: Nat Hocken
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.