John Steinbeck Quotes (251 Quotes)


    I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar - if he is financially fortunate.


    Sometimes when she was alone, and she knew she was alone, she permitted her mind to play in a garden, and she smiled.

    We only have one story. All novels, all poetry are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil.




    For every man in the world functions to the best of his ability, and no one does less than his best, no matter what he may think about it.


    Let's say that when I was a little baby, and all my bones soft and malleable, I was put in a small Episcopal cruciform box and so took my shape. Then, when I broke out of the box, the way a baby chick escapes an egg, is it strange that I had the shape of a cross? Have you ever noticed that chickens are roughly egg-shaped?



    I think there must have been some other girl printed somewhere in his heart, for he was a man of love and his wife was not a woman to show her feelings.

    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. He felt insulted by his back, almost as he would have been if one of his children had been dishonest

    Sometimes, a lie is told in kindness. I don't believe it ever works kindly. The quick pain of truth can pass away, but the slow, eating agony of a lie is never lost.

    Well, every little boy thinks he invented sin. Virtue we think we learn, because we are told about it. But sin is our own designing.

    And now the group was welded to one thing, one unit, so that in the dark the eyes of the people were inward, and their minds played in other times, and their sadness was like rest, like sleep.

    The bank - the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.

    For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.



    And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen.


    One day we'll sit and you'll lay it out on the table, neat like a solitaire deck, but now - why, you can't find all the cards.

    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.

    What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality! The only drawback in that freedom is that without it one would not be a human. One would be a monster.

    And now they were weary and frightened because they had gone against a system they did not understand and it had beaten them. They knew that the team and the wagon were worth much more. They knew the buyer man would get much more, but they didn't know how to do it. Merchandising was a secret to them.


    He did not know, and perhaps this doctor did. And he could not take the chance of pitting his certain ignorance against this man's possible knowledge. He was trapped as his people were always trapped, and would be until, as he had said, they could be sure that the things in the books ere really in the books.


    Margie had known many men, most of them guilty, wounded in their vanity, or despairing, so that she had developed a contempt for her quarry as a professional hunter of vermin does. It was easy to move such men through their fears and their vanities. They ached so to be fooled that she no longer felt triumph--only a kind of disgusted pity.

    As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.

    In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused. At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?

    Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

    The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path or the breath caught at sight of a pretty girl or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil.




    If every single man and woman, child and baby, acts and conducts itself in a known pattern and breaks no walls and differs with no one and experiments in no way and is not sick and does not endanger the ease and peace of mind or steady unbroken flow of the town, then that unit can disappear and never be heard of.



    But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There's no godliness there.




    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.

    At night frantic men walked boldly to hen roosts and carried off the squawking chickens. If they were shot at, they did not run, but splashed sullenly away; and if they were hit, they sank tiredly in the mud.






    More John Steinbeck Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Man - People - World - Mind - Time - Thought & Thinking - Education - Books - Work & Career - Woman - Dogs - Sin - Courage - Life - Place - Wisdom & Knowledge - Children - Success - Soul - View All John Steinbeck Quotations

    More John Steinbeck Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Cannery Row
    - East of Eden
    - Of Mice and Men
    - The Grapes of Wrath
    - The Pearl
    - The Winter of Our Discontent

    Related Authors


    Leo Buscaglia - Zig Ziglar - Marcel Proust - C. S. Lewis - Upton Sinclair - Salvatore Quasimodo - Michael Crichton - Mary Higgins Clark - Jared Diamond - Harriet Beecher Stowe


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