John Steinbeck


American Author of Novels, Non-Fiction and Short Stories, Awarded Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath and Nobel Prize for Literature

Author Quotes

What pillow can one have like a good conscience?

When Mary is confused or perplexed, she spurts anger the way an octopus spurts ink, and hides in the dark cloud of it.

When you put him aside, that I understand only. I know what is bad, but there's nothing I can do. Someone else can help you. I can only say that now, but you cannot believe it. Ways to get open. Also in this period we cannot tolerate each other, be with you my love.

Why don't you beat him?

Well, sir, he said, we?ve got a murder now and then, or we can read about them. Then we?ve got the World Series. You can raise a wind any time over the Pirates or the Yankees, but I guess the best of all is we?ve got the Russians. Feelings pretty strong there? Oh, sure! Hardly a day goes by somebody doesn?t take a belt at the Russians. ...I asked, Anybody know any Russians around here? And now he went all out and laughed. Course not. That?s why they?re valuable. Nobody can find fault with you if you take out after the Russians.

What some people find in religion a writer may find in his craft...a kind of breaking through to glory.

When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God.

When you see good or bad in your children, you're seeing what you instilled in them after they cleared the womb.

Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there?

Well, suppose there?s a slight doubt that the boy should be in the army and we send him and he gets killed.

What the hell kind of bed you giving us, anyways? We don't want no pants rabbits.

When shoes and clothes and food, when hope is gone we'll all have the rifle.

When you?re a child you?re the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people? They?re only ghosts furnished for you to talk to. But when you grow up you take your place and you?re your own size and shape. Things go out of you to others and come in from other people. It?s worse, but it?s much better too.

Why, a trick horse is kind of like an actor?no dignity, no character of his own.

Well, what are you doing this kind of work for--against your own people? Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner--and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day and it comes every day. But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can't eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right? Can't think of that. Got to think of my own kids.

What we knew is dead, and maybe the greatest part of what we were is dead. What's out there is new and perhaps good, but it's nothing we know.

When the fair gold morning of April stirred Mary Hawley awake, she turned over to her husband and saw him, little fingers pulling a frog mouth at her.

When you're a child you're the center of everything. Other people? They're only ghosts furnished for you to talk to. But when you grow up you take your place and you're your own size and shape. Things go out of you to others and come in from other people. It's worse, but it's much better too.

Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop.

Well, you ain?t never gonna know. Casy tries to tell ya an? you jest ast the same thing over. I seen fellas like you before. You ain?t askin? nothin?; you?re jus? singin? a kinda song. ?What we comin? to?? You don? wanta know. Country?s movin? aroun?, goin? places. They?s folks dyin? all aroun?. Maybe you?ll die pretty soon, but you won?t know nothin?. I seen too many fellas like you. You don?t want to know nothin?. Just sing yourself to sleep with a song? ?What we comin? to??

When a child first catches adults out -- when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just -- his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child's world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.

When the radio was on, music has stimulated memory of times and places, complete with characters and stage sets, memories so exact that every word of dialogue is recreated. And I have projected future scenes, just as complete and convincing--scenes that will never take place. I've written short stories in my mind, chuckling at my own humor, saddened or stimulated by structure or content.

When you're a kid, you're in the center of all things. Everything happens for you. Other people? These are just ghosts made ??available to you as you speak them. But when you grow, you take your place and you get so far and your own form. Some things you start to others and I come to you from others. It's bad, but it's so much better

Why, Tom - us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people - we go on.' 'We take a beatin' all the time.' 'I know.' Ma chuckled. 'Maybe that makes us tough. Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good, an' they die out. But, Tom, we keep a-comin'. Don' you fret none, Tom. A different time's comin'.

What a frightening thing is the human, a mass of gauges and dials and registers, and we can read only a few and those perhaps not accurately.

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American Author of Novels, Non-Fiction and Short Stories, Awarded Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath and Nobel Prize for Literature