East of Eden quotes

– He covered his life with a veil of vagueness, while behind quiet eyes a rich full life went on. (Pg 27)

– “Charles won’t be going,” Cyrus said. “There’d be no point in it.”
“But he would be a better soldier.”
“Only outside on his skin,” said Cyrus. “Not inside. Charles is not afraid so he could never learn anything about courage.” (Pg 35)

– Tom, the third son, was most like his father. He was born in fury and he lived in lightning. Tom came headlong into life. He was a giant in joy and in enthusiasms. He didn’t discover the world and its people, he created them. When he read his fathers books, he was the first. He lived in a world shining and fresh and as I inspected as Eden on the sixth day. His mind plunged like a colt in a happy pasture, and when later the world put up fences he plunged against the wire, and when the final stockade surrounded him, he plunged right though it and out. And as he was capable of giant joy, so did he harbour huge sorrow, so that when his dog died the world ended. (Pg 50)

– Tom bruised himself on the world and licked his cuts. (Pg 55)

– His dark face took on the serious expressionlessness of a man who is nearly always alone. (Pg 58)

– Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all. (Pg 68)

– He kept hiding in words. (Pg 77)

– Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the groups can build and extend it, but the group never creates anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man. (Pg 157)

– And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. (Pg 157)


– After a quick glance Adam came back to the eyes, light blue and filled with young delight. The wrinkles around them were drawn in radial lines inward by laughter. (Pg 167)

– Olive had not her fathers brilliance, but she did have a sense of fun, together with her mother’s strong and undeviating will. (Pg 177)

– She was as intuitive as a cat. Her acts were based on feelings rather than thoughts. (Pg 178)

– Olive had great courage. Perhaps it takes courage to raise children. (Pg 180)

– There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension. (Pg 196)

– The honest preachers had energy and go. They fought the devil, no holds barred, boots and eye-gouging permitted. (Pg 258)

– One day Samuel strained his back lifting a bale of hay, and it hurt his feelings more than his back. (Pg 301)

– Samuel tried to plait a rage to take care of his embarrassment. He said heroic words to himself. (Pg 305)

– “I think there are degrees of greatness,” Adam said.
“I don’t think so,” said Samuel. “That would be like saying there is a little bigness. No. I believe when you come to that responsibility the hugeness and you are alone to make your choice. On one side you have warmth and companionship and sweet understanding, and on the other – cold, lonely greatness. There you make your choice.” (Pg 314)

– Tom felt darkness. His father was beautiful and clever, his mother was short and mathematically sure. Each of his brothers and sisters had looks or gifts or fortune. Tom loved all of them passionately, but he felt heavy and earth-bound. (Pg 335)

– But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled led between the covers, tunnelled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands. (Pg 335)

– “You’re too young a man to be panning memories, Adam. You should be getting yourself some new ones, so that the mining will be richer when you come to age.” (Pg 352)

– “It’s a good thing to be loved, even late.” (Pg 354)

“The word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice.
Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Though mayest’! 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 through it and win.” (Pg 361)

– The cold wind blew over the tombstones and cried in the cypresses. (Pg 370)

– He loved a celebration of the human soul. Such things were like a personal triumph to him. (Pg 428)

– “Do you think the thoughts of people suddenly become important at a given age? Do you have sharper feelings or clearer thoughts now than when you were ten? Do you see as well, hear as well, taste as vitally?” (Pg 447)

– A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well – or ill? (Pg 491)

– In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love… we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world. (Pg 493)

– Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk. (Pg 515)

– Whatever you do, it will be you who do it. (Pg 531)

– All great and precious things are lonely. (Pg 619)

– And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. (Pg 693)

– Every man in every generation is refired. Does a craftsman, even in his old age, lose his hunger to make a perfect cup – thin, strong, translucent? All impurities are burned out and ready for a glorious flux, and for that – more fire. And then either the slag heap or, perhaps what no one in this world ever quite gives up, perfection… Can you think that whatever made us – would stop trying? (Pg 712)

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