Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Important quotes with page numbers
“‘Why, Jon, why? ’ his mother asked. ‘Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you’re bone and feathers! ’” (Part One, Page 13).
Jonathan’s mother is asking him to be like the other seagulls in the flock. She is asking him to ignore his passion. She simply wants him to be a typical seagull. She appears to be frustrated with his behavior.
“There is so much to learn” (Part One, Page 15).
Jonathan thinks this after his mother scolds him for not being like the other seagulls, who spend their days fighting for small pieces of fish. Jonathan would rather learn to fly than eat.
“Seagulls never fly in the dark” (Part One, Page 23).
This is the moment when Jonathan realizes that he can do more than the average seagull. His inner voice tells him that he cannot fly in the dark, but he ignores the voice and flies anyway, which gives him the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the night.
“One who has touched excellence in his learning has no need of that kind of promise” (Part One, Page 27).
Jonathan was in the habit of making promises to himself about his flying skills, but he reached a point where he realized that he did not have to do this. He saw excellence and he realized that it was time to move past the ordinary and just fly.
“His thought was triumph. Terminal velocity! A seagull at two hundred fourteen miles per hour! It was a breakthrough, the greatest single moment in the history of the Flock, and in that moment a new age opened for Jonathan Gull” (Part One, Page 29).
Jonathan tested his abilities as a gull and realized at this moment that he could do anything. To reach this speed, he had to beat the fear of possible death!
“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly! ” (Part One, Page 30-31).
Jonathan realized that he needed to share his skills with the rest of the Flock. He wanted to share his new-found skills and help them all to be free to enjoy the heights of the sky.
“The Brotherhood is broken” (Part One, Page 40).
This was the moment that Jonathan was named an Outcast and banished from the Flock. If it were not for his banishment, Jonathan would not have been able to learn what he did.
“‘We’re from your Flock, Jonathan. We are your brothers’” (Part One, Page 53).
After Jonathan tested the abilities of the two perfect seagulls, he asked them who they were. He is surprised by their answer because he has been exiled by the flock and is all alone.
“‘I’m ready,’ he said at last” (Part One, Page 53).
When Jonathan was leaving the Flock, a pair of gulls met him in flight. They asked him if he was ready to fly higher. He was.
“So this is heaven, he thought, and he had to smile at himself” (Part Two, Page 57).
Jonathan was not sure where he was at first and he thought he was in heaven. He was not, but it seemed that way to him. It is pleasant for the reader to see Jonathan so happy.
“‘But you, Jon,’ he said, ‘learned so much at one time that you didn’t have to go through a thousand lives to reach this one’” (Part Two, Page 63).
While Jonathan is trying to figure out where he is and who the other gulls are, one of the gulls, Sullivan, tells him about his long journey and the thousand lives that he needed to live to get to where he is. He compliments Jonathan on his desire to learn and his speed of learning.
“‘Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect’” (Part Two, Page 64).
While speaking to the Elder, Jonathan asks about heaven. The Elder helps Jonathan understand that heaven is not a place, but more of a state of being. The Elder continues to help Jonathan understand what he could do in heaven.
“‘Perfect speed, my son, is being there’” (Part Two, Page 65).
The Elder continued to teach Jonathan about transcendence—without using that word—by teaching him how to move without needing to move.
“The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time” (Part Two, Page 80).
The Elder wanted Jonathan to understand that he was already perfect and could transcend time and space.
“‘To fly as fast as you thought, to anywhere that is,’ he said, “you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived’” (Part Two, Page 80).
The Elder explained to Jonathan that he already had the knowledge that he needed to be able to fly the way he wanted to fly.
“‘I am a perfect, unlimited gull! ’” (Part Two, Page 81).
Jonathan realized what he was and what he could do—which was everything.
“‘Jonathan… keep working on love’” (Part Two, Page 84).
As the Elder disappeared from Jonathan’s life, he left him with these last words. In order to become what he needed to become, Jonathan needed to forgive the Flock and teach them what he could.
“‘The gull sees farthest who flies highest’” (Part Two, Page 85).
This was a proverb for the gulls. Sullivan reminded Jonathan of it and how it came true in Jonathan’s life. He needed to be able to share what he knew.
“‘Everything that limits us we have to put aside” (Part Three, Page 103).
As Jonathan works with seagulls that have become Outcasts, he shared these words of wisdom. The gulls eventually realize that he is right, and more gulls began to wander near him to learn about pushing those limits.
“‘We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are,’ Jonathan answered, and he lifted from the sand and turned east, toward the home grounds of the Flock” (Part Three, Page 104).
This was the moment that Jonathan realized that he needed to return to the Flock. It was a turning point because he recognized that the Flock needed his love.
“‘I say you are free’” (Part Three, Page 112).
A gull who had a bad wing and thought he could not fly approached Jonathan. The gull thought he was trapped, but Jonathan told him otherwise and the gull took to the air and flew.
“The price of being misunderstood, he thought. They call you devil or they call you god” (Part Three, Page 115).
Jonathan was changing the way the Flock lived and flew. The gulls did not understand everything he was doing, so he thought about the way that the gulls perceived him. Despite their antagonism, he continued to teach the gulls what he knew.
“‘Why is it,’ Jonathan puzzled, ‘that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he’d just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard? ” (Part Three, Page 122).
Jonathan just wanted the gulls to be able to live freely. He knew that practice was all that was needed for all of the Flock to experience the freedom that he had.
“Jonathan Seagull had vanished into empty air” (Part Three, Page 125).
This is the moment Jonathan left the Flock and was free. He did what he needed to do. He left Fletcher Seagull in charge of teaching the Flock how to be free.
“No limits, Jonathan? he thought and smiled. His race to learn had begun” (Part Three, Page 127).
This was the moment that Fletcher Seagull realized that Jonathan had taught him all that he needed to know. It was Fletcher’s turn to share everything he knew and to learn all that he could on his own.