Never Fall Down: Important quotes with page
1. “At night in our town, it’s music everywhere. Rich house. Poor house. Doesn’t matter. Everyone has music. ” (Chapter 1, Page 3) The novel’s opening line shows the importance of music in Arn’s life and foreshadows the role music will play in different stages throughout Arn’s journey.
2. “Outside in the park, we fly the plane, shoot the gun, be the hero. Just like the real soldier fighting right now in the jungle outside of our town. We shoot probably a hundred bullet, die a hundred time. ” (Chapter 1, Page 4) This quotation about Arn and his little brother reenacting movie battles contrasts the romanticism and reality of war.
At first, Arn sees war as glamorous and heroic, like in American movies. Soon, though, he learns what it feels like actually to shoot and kill another human being.
3. “All of Cambodia is on the road. A hundred thousand people with a hundred thousand thing. ” (Chapter 2, Page 18) Arn uses hyperbole to describe the forced exodus from his town, which mirrors the forced removal of families from cities all over Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge. The quotation is important because it gives a sense of the magnitude of the historical moment.
4. “Angka. We hear this word all the time now. Angka will end corruption. Angka will double the rice crop. Angka will cut out what is infected. Angka will make Cambodia great again. ” (Chapter 2, Page 35) These statements are examples of Khmer Rouge propaganda. Arn knows something is wrong because whenever the soldiers mention Angka, the people around him must clap in unison, starting and stopping at the same time.
5. “I see some kids die in the field. They just fall down. Maybe it’s malaria. Or maybe they starve. They fall down, they never get up. Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down. ” (Chapter 3, Page 42)
This passage provides the book’s title and shows both the cruelty of life under the Khmer Rouge and Arn’s will to survive at all costs. Arn repeatedly describes children looking as though they are elderly, after their time toiling for the Khmer Rouge.
6. “Every day, the Khmer Rouge tell us we have to forget the past. This is Year Zero, they say; nothing has come before. All past knowledge is illegal. Also they tell us, over and over, about a new disease of the mind: thinking too much. You must be like the ox, they say; no thoughts, only love for Angka. ” (Chapter 3, Pages 43-44)
The Khmer Rouge sought to destroy the history, knowledge and culture of Cambodia to achieve total control over the people. Arn realizes how dangerous it is to have a mind of his own and begins to pretend to buy into the propaganda.
7. “This new guy, I ask what’s his name. He look at me like I’m crazy. No one says the name anymore. We all just comrade, we all just workers, all the same, no name, no personality. ” (Chapter 4, Page 57) Arn fights the enforced depersonalization of the work camps by secretly reaching out to other prisoners. The new guy is Mek, who becomes Arn’s music teacher and a father figure to Arn. Arn proves that resistance against evil can be as simple as asking someone for their name.
8. “Sometime when the Khmer Rouge bring the prisoner, new prisoner, I see people from my hometown. Every time, I hope I don’t know these people, because I don’t want the Khmer Rouge to see. ” (Chapter 5, Page 68) Arn knows that it is dangerous to show that he recognizes another person because that could implicate him in the crime of which the prisoner is accused.
9. “And I see the wandering boy. I see him crouching, holding the arm of a dead guy, chewing. ” (Chapter 6, Page 87) This passage shows the lengths that people are driven to in order to survive the work camps. Cannibalism is common, even among the soldiers, who also often children.
10. “The Khmer Rouge, they kill whatever they hate. Sometime, even, they hate each other. ” (Chapter 6, Page 89) Arn sees that the Khmer Rouge are suspicious of everyone, including those in their own ranks, and will not hesitate to kill. Their paranoia over loyalty to the cause is the driving force of the genocide.
11. “Every minute now I think only about Sombo. I worry that maybe he is in the jail, dying for water. Or that the new leader will beat him. Or maybe kill him. ” (Chapter 7, Page 100) Sombo is a young Khmer Rouge guard at Arn’s work camp. Arn becomes emotionally attached to him because unlike the other soldiers, Sombo shows him kindness. Here, Sombo is the victim of a regime change and is removed from the camp. Arn fears he is gone for good.
12. “I think of all the time I play soldier with my little brother, how we hold our arms like airplane, how we shoot with our fingers. Little part of my heart is afraid now. But most of me, I feel excited. Real war is happening now. And I am real soldier. ” (Chapter 8, Page 112) Arn has mixed feelings when he is made a member of the Khmer Rouge.
He hates them, but he is excited to be a real soldier. He still has no idea of the realities of war.
13. “And I look at this woman, pretty face, long braid, dying slowly in the hot sun; and I do it. I shoot her. ” (Chapter 10, Page 133) After a few months as a soldier, Arn comes across a village that was ransacked by the Vietnamese. He finds a woman cut in half, her severed legs lying on the road. She begs Arn to kill her and he puts her out of her misery. Arn is likely not yet fourteen years old when he does this.
14. “Not even when I think to die, do I die. ” (Chapter 11, Page 148) Death is a constant threat for Arn but also something he wishes for when he has lost all his strength. Lost in the jungle, he wants to let death take over his ailing, exhausted body, but a vision points the way out of the jungle and he decides to follow it.
15. “So much hunger in me, a greedy, greedy hunger to be like these people, to sing the old song, the song I kill in my heart. ” (Chapter 12, Pages 154-155) Everyone on the refugee bus is singing along to old Cambodian love songs outlawed by the Khmer Rouge but Arn can’t bring himself to; his mindset is still controlled by the Khmer Rouge, who have outlawed the old songs of his country.
16. “Special visitor here today. Lady with pink skin, long nose. White lady. Lady with kind face, she come and lean over me, smelling like flower. American. ” (Chapter 13, Page 156) This passage describes First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s visit to Arn’s hospital in the refugee camp. Her visit raised awareness for Cambodian refugees and led to increased humanitarian aid for the region.
17. “And this monk, he speak a little Khmer. He tell me he pick me to live. Says he wish he can save all the kid; but me, I’m the chosen one. I don’t know exact what this mean, but one more time I’m lucky. ” (Chapter 13, Page 161) Here, Arn describes one of his first meetings with Peter Pond, who is a Christian aid worker. The novel never explains why Peter chooses to adopt Arn over the other children. Maybe he sees that Arn is a fighter, and that despite all he’s been through, he still has the will to live.
18. “Now I go to this kid, this kid I think was probably also soldier, and take his hand and bring him out from his hiding place. We two—me, skinny kid with old-man body; him, tiny kid with old-man face—we sit together and watch the game. ” (Chapter 13, Page 163)
Arn is describing Runty, the only other child in the camp who seems to be shell-shocked like Arn. Both of them are too weak to play volleyball with the other children so they watch. Again, we see Arn reach out to someone when he could easily stay isolated.
19. “And why do I get to go, me who kill, who push people in the grave, do all these bad thing? ” (Chapter 14, Page 174) This passage exemplifies Arn’s survivor’s guilt about being chosen to go to America. He is excited and but cannot help thinking that he doesn’t deserve it.
20. “‘Wait for me. I will come back for you. ’” (Chapter 15, Page 183) On the plane that will take Arn to safety in the United States, he makes a promise to his family and friends who were left behind that he will come back for them. He keeps his promise and eventually reunites with all his friends and family who survived the genocide and the war.
21. “The teacher hold up a thing called globe, and point and say, ‘Cam-BO-de-ah. That where these kid from. Cam-BO-de-ah. ’” (Chapter 16, Page 192) Arn is treated like an alien at his American high school. He has no frame of reference for American teenage social or cultural dynamics just as his classmates and teachers have no frame of reference for him.
22. “One word I hear all the time: monkey […] These kid at high school, they think I’m like animal. ” (Chapter 16, Page 193) Arn’s white classmates show their ignorance by making racist taunts at him. It makes Arn feel the same anger he felt as a soldier, and he fears he will hurt them.
23. “Like in volleyball, like spike, like anything I ever try to do, I do it to get attention, to get a little famous. ” (Chapter 16, Page 197) Arn excels at soccer at his new high school and reveals that wanting to be in the spotlight motivates him. This desire leads him to public speaking in the U. S. , which allows him to raise awareness for Cambodia.
24. “How can I tell him, ‘You nice man, Peter, but me, I’m bad’? All I think is: I want to die. I want to kill. ” (Chapter 17, Page 207) Arn cannot accept Peter Pond’s kindness to him because he feels unworthy. Even though he is far from the war and genocide in Cambodia, he cannot leave his guilt and shame behind.
25. “And finally, the tiger in my heart, he lay down for a moment and rest. ” (Chapter 18, Page 211) The final sentence in the novel shows that through speaking publically about his experiences in the genocide, Arn can finally let go of his trapped emotions and find peace.