The Human Stain: Important quotes with page – 1795 words

The Human Stain: Important quotes with page

1. “? They meant to kill me and they got her instead. ’” (Chapter 1, Page 13) Coleman insists that everyone involved in disgracing him during the spooks incident at Athena College is responsible for the death of his wife, Iris Silk. At Iris’s funeral, their estranged son, Mark, confronts his father and insists that Coleman is responsible, not anyone else.

2. “Thrown out of a Norfolk whorehouse for being black, thrown out of Athena College for being white. ” (Chapter 1, Page 16) Coleman mutters this line, and it is the first mention of Coleman’s race.It offers the suggestion that he was considered anything other than a white man at times in his life. It also suggests the fluctuating nature of identity.

3. “A tiny symbol, if one were needed, of all the million circumstances of the other fellow’s life, of that blizzard of details that constitute the confusion of a human biography—a tiny symbol to remind me why our understanding of people must always be at best slightly wrong. ” (Chapter 1, Page 22) Nathan thinks these lines after seeing Coleman’s U. S. Navy tattoo. Appearing so early on in the novel, it can be taken as a hint that Nathan is an unreliable narrator and his understanding of Coleman will inevitably be wrong.

4. “Everyone knows you’re sexually exploiting an abused, illiterate woman half your age. ” (Chapter 1, Page 38) This is the note that Delphine writes to Coleman, although she mails it anonymously. It is intended to shame Coleman, but it just ignites his righteous indignation at once again being accused of a crime he does not believe he committed.

5. “Coleman Silk danced me right back into life.” (Chapter 1, Page 45) Nathan thinks this line while reflecting on how his friendship with Coleman has helped Nathan reconnect with other people and come out of his isolated lifestyle. It is a whimsical play on words, since they literally dance the fox trot on Coleman’s porch one Saturday night.

6. “Instead, drawing back, reining himself in, strategically speaking as softly as he could—yet not nearly so mindfully as he might have—Coleman said,? I never again want to hear that self-admiring voice of yours or see your smug fucking lily-white face.’” (Chapter 2, Page 81) Coleman expresses his outrage at Nelson Primus, who has attempted to lecture Coleman on the dangers of continuing his affair with Faunia Farley. His choice of the phrase “lily-white” confuses Nelson. At the end of the chapter, Walt, Coleman’s brother, uses the same phrase, in a flashback scene, to disown Coleman, after Coleman decides to live as a white man.

7. “? If nothing comes up,’ Doc said, ? you don’t bring it up. You’re neither one thing or the other. You’re Silky Silk. That’s enough. That’s the deal.’” (Chapter 2, Pages 98-99) This is a portion of Coleman’s conversation with Doc Chizner, just before Coleman passes as a white youth in a boxing match. It shows the encouragement a mentor in Coleman’s life gave him to pass.

8. “The power and pleasure were to be found in the opposite, in being counter confessional in the same way you were a counterpuncher, and he knew that with nobody having to tell him and without his having to think about it. ” (Chapter 2, Page 100) Coleman feels power and pleasure after passing as white during the boxing match.He feels that he can avoid the injustices experienced by blacks by pretending to be white.

9. “It occurred first to his heart, which began banging away like the heart of someone on the brink of committing his first great crime. ” (Chapter 2, Page 109) These lines occur just before Coleman declares his race as white on his U. S. Navy enrollment forms. They help explain the excitement Coleman feelsat getting away with something.

10. “? Lost himself to all his people’ was another way they put it. ” (Chapter 2, Page 144)These lines refer to other people in Coleman’s family who had vanished from their family. Coleman was not the first. These lines also suggest the many people who passed as white throughout American history to avoid prejudice and racist oppression.

11. “? Don’t you even try to see her. No contact. No calls. Nothing. Never. Hear me? ’ Walt said. ?Never. Don’t you dare ever show your lily-white face around that house again! ’” (Chapter 2, Page 145) Walt, Coleman’s brother, says these words to Coleman after Coleman breaks his mother’s heart.

Coleman has just told his mother he is planning to marry Iris and never reveal his identity as a black man, effectively disowning his mother and family.

12. “? The sincere performance is everything. ’” (Chapter 3, Page 147) These words are part of a conversation between two unnamed male faculty members at Athena College. They are discussing the scandal involving President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and the performance they refer to is Lewinsky’s. The argument is that she seems sincere and polite, but she is really empty and shallow, and it’s all a performance.The significance of performance comes up for many of the characters who pretend to be someone they are not.

13. “Where neither Nelson Primus nor his beloved Lisa nor even the cryptic denunciation anonymously dispatched by Delphine Roux had convinced him of anything, this scene of no great moment on the lawn […] exposed to him at last the underside of his own disgrace. ” (Chapter 3, Page 157) Coleman sees Faunia lounging on the grass with some of her janitorial coworkers. He feels a deep sense of the social and intellectual gulf between them.

14.“Well, what he did with the kid who couldn’t read was to make her his mistress. ” (Chapter 3, Page 161) Coleman compares the children his daughter, Lisa, teaches to Faunia. He imagines her as a helpless child because she is illiterate, and he feels that he as exploited her, just as Delphine accused him of doing.

15. “I am a crow. I know it. I know it! ” (Chapter 3, Page 169) Faunia thinks this as she lounges on the grass and stares at the crows. Coleman assumes she is thinking of her own suffering and abuse, yet Faunia is thinking about how she is a crow, and crows are easily able to fly away.

16. “Let him not underestimate her resolve: Nothing was more important to her than exposing Coleman Silk for what he was. ” (Chapter 3, Page 195) Delphine Roux is determined to expose Coleman Silk for what she perceives him to be–a racist, sexist, abusive man. The certainty of her thoughts underscores the extent of her obsession with Coleman.

17. “There is now no way they will stop themselves in time. It’s done. I am not alone in listening to the music from the road. ” (Chapter 4, Page 204) Nathan thinks these lines as he drives by Coleman’s house to check on him.The fatalistic tone comes from the fact that Nathan wrote these words after their deaths and knew how their stories, and lives, would end at the time of his writing.

18. “Nobody knows, Professor Roux…What we know is that, in an uncliched ways, nobody knows anything. You can’t know anything. The things you know you don’t know. Intention? Motive? Consequence? Meaning? All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing. ” (Chapter 4, Page 209) Nathan thinks these lines, and they provide an excellent summary of the novel’s theme of knowing.All of the action of the plot drives toward this central idea that nobody truly knows anything, or at least everything, about anyone.

19. “For better or worse, I can only do what everyone does who thinks that they know. I imagine. I am forced to imagine. It happens to be what I do for a living. It is my job. It’s now all I do. ” (Chapter 4, Page 213) Nathan, as a writer and as the unreliable narrator of the novel, admits that he does not know. He imagines. This admission throws everything in the novel into question, as it’s possible to see interpretations of events as a product of Nathan’s imagination.

20. “? That’s what comes of being hand-raised,’ said Faunia. ?That’s what comes of hanging around all his life with people like us. The human stain,’ she said, and without revulsion or contempt or condemnation. Not even with sadness. ” (Chapter 4, Page 242) Faunia speaks these lines about Prince, the crow who cannot live in the wild with other crows. These lines express Faunia’s pessimism and her impassivity. She accepts that the negative impact of the human stain is inevitable.

21. “Be unclassifiable here, be something they cannot reconcile, and they torment you for it.That being unclassifiable is a part of her bildungsroman, that she has always thrived on being unclassifiable, nobody at Athena understands. ” (Chapter 4, Page 271) Delphine Roux thinks these lines, and they reveal how similar she is to Coleman. Coleman also thrived on being unclassifiable and undiscoverable to the people around him.

22. “Simply to make the accusation is to prove it. To hear the allegation is to believe it. No motive for the perpetrator is necessary, no logic or rationale is required. Only a label is required. The label is the motive. The label is the evidence.

The label is the logic. ” (Chapter 5, Page 290) Nathan thinks these lines as an indictment against the people who will inevitably believe the emailed obituary of Faunia. The constant theme throughout the novel is people’s need and willingness to believe anything, as long as it aligns with predetermined labels and identities.

23. “Most people inflate themselves and lie about accomplishments they have only dreamed of achieving; Faunia had lied about failing to reach proficiency at a skill so fundamental that, in a matter of a year or two, it is acquired at

least crudely by nearly every schoolchild in the world. ” (Chapter 5, Page 297) Nathan imagines why Faunia lied about being illiterate. He determines she lied to spice things up and do the opposite of what people expect.

24. “Once you set the thing in motion, your art was being a white man. Being, in your brother’s words,? more white than the whites. ’ That was your singular act of invention: every day you woke up to be what you had made yourself. ” (Chapter 5, Page 345) Nathan realizes that Coleman’s adult life has been a work of art.Coleman created his identity as a white man, and every day he made choices to keep that identity intact.

25. “So don’t you forget to keep this my secret place. The only time a secret gets out, Mr. Zuckerman, is when you tell that secret. ” (Chapter 5, Page 360) Lester speaks these words to Nathan in the final scene at the ice pond. They are vague and threatening at the same time. Nathan certainly perceives them as a threat, as he decides to finish the book and then move away from the area.

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