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

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.

When a condition or a problem becomes too great, humans have the protection of not thinking about it. But it goes inward and minces up with a lot of other things already there and what comes out is discontent and uneasiness, guilt and a compulsion to get something--anything--before it is all gone.

When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people.

When you're huntin' somepin you're a hunter, an' you're strong. Can't nobody beat a hunter. But when you get hunted - that's different. Somepin happens to you. You ain't strong: maybe you're fierce, but you ain't strong. - Muley

What a wonderful thing a woman is. I can admire what they do even if I don't understand why.

When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to chose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. And last he must implement the journey. How to go, what to take, how long to stay. This part of the process is invariable and immortal. I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teen-agers in new-hatched sin, will not think they invented it. Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.

Whenever they's a fight so hungry hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beating up a guy, I'll be there.

What are you looking for, little man? Is it yourself you?re trying to identify? Are you looking at little things to avoid big things?

When a man is finally boxed and he has no choice, he begins to decorate his box.

When two events have something in common, in their natures or in time or place, we leap happily to the conclusion that they are similar and from this tendency we create magics and store them for retelling.

Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there . . . . I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why, I'll be there.

What branch do you want to go in? I don? give a god-damn, said Pilon jauntily. I guess we need men like you in the infantry. And Pilon was written so. He turned then to Big Joe, and the Portagee was getting sober. Where do you want to go? I want to go home, Big Joe said miserably. The sergeant put him in the infantry too.

When a man says he does not want to speak of something he usually means he can think of nothing else.

When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you got two new people. Maybe that means ? hell, it's complicated.

Where begins dissatisfaction? Are you warm enough, but you have the chills. You're well-fed, but gnaws hunger. Do you have loved, but your desire wanders into new fields. And to worsen all this there is the time, damn! The end of life was not so terribly far away - it is seen as a milestone as threading the straight - and then you say to yourself: I've worked enough? I have eaten enough? I loved you enough? All of these, of course, are the foundation of the greatest curse of man, and perhaps his greatest glory. What did he meant my life so far, and what it can mean in the time I have left? And now we come to the wicked poisoned arrow: What did I do good to write in the Great Book? What I am worth? And this is neither vanity nor ambition. The men seem born with a debt that can never be paid, as far as we give below. The debt is growing before their eyes. The man owes something to man. If he ignores his debt, this is poisoning him, and if he tries to make payments on the debt does nothing but grow, and the quality of the gift that man does is his truest measure.

What can it profit a man to gain the whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown prostate and bifocals? Mack and the boys avoid the trap, walk around the poison, step over the noose while a generation of trapped,, poisoned, and trussed-up men scream at them and call them no-goods, come to bad ends, blot-on-the town-thieves, rascals, bums. Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the town and bums,, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature.

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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