Mathilda Gokey Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from Mathilda Gokey
“What had I seen? Too much. What did I know? Only that knowledge carries a damned high price. Miss Wilcox, my teacher, had taught me so much. Why had she never taught me that?”
“I would have liked to tell Mr. Palmer just how old and feeble that joke is, but instead I said, ‘Oh, of course, sir! How clever of you’ because I had learned a thing or two during my time at the Glenmore. About when to tell the truth and when not to.”
“But myself is not listening. She refuses to listen. She’s picking up another letter and another and another, frantically looking for a different answer.”
“He blinked at me and his eyes looked hurt, and I thought, just for a second, that he was going to say something tender to me, but no. “Go, then, Mattie. I won’t stop you. But don’t come back if you do,” he said. Then he walked out of the kitchen, slamming the door behind him.”
“I remained on the ladder, looking at the figurine in my hand. You’re wrong, Aunt Josie, I thought. It’s not pride I’m feeling. It’s another sin. Worse than all the other ones, which are immediate, violent, and hot. This one sits inside you quietly and eats you from the inside out like the trichina worms the pigs get. It’s the Eighth Deadly Sin. The one God left out. Hope.”
“I’d never known it was like this for a woman. Never. We’d always been sent to Aunt Josie’s when Mamma’s time was near. We would stay there overnight, and when we came back, there was Mamma smiling with a new baby in her arms.”
“My voice trembled as I spoke, as it did whenever I was angry. ‘I feel let down sometimes. The people in books—the heroes—they’re always so… heroic. And I try to be, but…‘”
“People in books are good and noble and unselfish, and people aren’t that way ... and I feel, well… hornswoggled sometimes. By Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott. Why do writers make things sugary when life isn’t that way?”
“Why don’t they tell the truth? Why don’t they tell how a pigpen looks after the sow’s eaten her children? Or how it is for a girl when her baby won’t come out? Or that cancer has a smell to it?”
“Forty-five cents was a good deal of money, but I didn’t want the ones for fifteen cents, not after I’d seen the others. I had more ideas. Tons of them. For stories and poems. I chewed the inside of my cheek, deliberating. I knew I would have to write a lot when I went to Barnard—if I went to Barnard—and it might be a good idea to get a head start. […] Guilt gnawed at my insides.”
“I bet not one of them will tell you what cancer smells like. I can, though. It stinks. Like meat gone bad and dirty clothes and bog water all mixed together. Why doesn’t anyone tell you that?”
“As soon as she said it, as soon as she talked about my dream like that and brought it out in the light and made it real, I saw only the impossibility of it all. I had a pa who would never let me go. I had no money and no prospect of getting any. And I had made a promise—one that would keep me here even if I had all the money in the world.”
“Things are never what they seem, Pa, I thought. I used to think they were, but I was wrong or stupid or blind or something. Old folks are forever complaining about their failing eyesight, but I think your vision gets better as you get older. Mine surely was.”
“It was a dreadful thing that he did, and he is not to be admired for it, but right then I felt I understood why he did it. I even felt a little sorry for him. He probably just wanted some company, for it is very lonely knowing things.”
“It wasn’t like this when Mamma was alive. Somehow she provided good meals all through the winter and still managed to have meat left in the cellar come spring. I am nowhere near as capable as my mother was, and if I ever forget it, I have Lou to remind me. Or Pa. Not that he says the sorts of things Lou does, but you can tell by the look on his face when he sits down to eat that he isn’t fond of mush day in and day out.”
″‘Go round cringing like a dog, Matt,’ he said, ‘and folks will treat you like one. Stand up like a man, and they’ll treat you like a man.’ That was fine for Weaver, but I wondered sometimes, How exactly do you stand up like a man when you’re a girl?”
“My eyes latch on to one line again: “I said no so many times, dear”...and then I gasp out loud, because I have said no a few times myself, dear, and I finally understand why Grace was so upset: She was carrying a baby—Chester Gillette’s baby. That’s why she had to give up her position and go home. That’s why she was so desperate for him to come and take her away. Before her belly got big and the whole world found out.”
“As he handed it to me, I saw he’d gripped it so tightly his knuckles had turned white. We were not the kissing kind, me and Pa, but I wished that maybe he would at least hug me good-bye.”
“Why isn’t real life like book life?” I asked, sitting down next to him. “Why aren’t people plain and uncomplicated? Why don’t they do what you expect them to do, like characters in a novel?” I took my shoes and stockings off and dangled my feet in the water, too.
“And I knew in my bones that Emily Dickinson wouldn’t have written even one poem if she’d had two howling babies, a husband bent on jamming another one into her, a house to run, a garden to tend, three cows to milk, twenty chickens to feed, and four hired hands to cook for.”
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