Saturday, February 7, 2009

Quotations from *Cup of Gold*, 4 of 11
John Steinbeck
1902-1968 American

Henry had learned many things in dealing with the slaves. He knew that he must never let them see what he was thinking, for then, in some ineffable way, they had a hold on him which would be difficult to shake off. He must be cold and distant and insulting to those below him. With few exceptions, they would take insult as the sign of his superiority. Men always believed him what he seemed to be, and he could seem to be almost anything.

If one were brilliantly dressed, all men presumed him rich and powerful, and treated him accordingly. When he said things as though he meant them, nearly all acted as though he meant them. And, most important of his lessons—if he were perfectly honest and gave a strict accounting in nine consecutive dealings, then the tenth time he might steal as much as he wished, and no one would dream of suspecting him, so only he had brought the nine times forcibly enough to the attention of all men.

A growing pile of golden coins in a box under his bed gave ample proof of the validity of this last lesson. And he followed all his teachings. He never gave any man the least hold on him, nor insight into his motives and means and abilities and shortcomings. Since most men did not believe in themselves, they could not believe in one they understood to be like themselves.
John Steinbeck, Cup of Gold

He gazed about him and knew that he should be satisfied, but his eyes had never lost the trick of looking out beyond distance and over the edge of the present. A little hectoring wish ran through his waking and dreaming like a thin red line. He must get back to the sea and ships. The sea was his mother and his mistress, and the goddess who might command and find him ready and alert for service.
John Steinbeck, Cup of Gold

“I loved her with that love a man may exercise but once.”
John Steinbeck, Cup of Gold

“But—do you love Paulette?”

He leaped up and glared at her.

“You? Love you? Why, you are just a little animal! a pretty little golden animal, for sure, but a form of flesh—no more. May one worship a god merely because he is big, or cherish a land which has no virtue save its breadth, or love a woman whose whole realm is her flesh? Ah, Paulette! you have no soul at all! Elizabeth had a white winged soul. I love you—yes—with what you have to be loved—the body. But Elizabeth—I loved Elizabeth with my soul.”

Paulette was puzzled.

“What is this soul?” she asked. “And how may I get one if I have not one already? And where is this soul of yours that I have never seen it or heard it at all? And if they cannot be seen, or heard, or touched, how do you know she had this soul?”

“Hush!” he cried furiously. “Hush! or I box your mouth and have you whipped on the cross. You speak of things beyond you. What can you know of love that lies without your fleshly juggling?”
John Steinbeck, Cup of Gold

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