Thought Catalog

34 Profound Excerpts From Classic Literature That Will Change Your Day

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34 Redditors share the most memorable and inspiring excerpts in literature. Found on r/AskReddit.

1. littlemusicteacher

“Alright then, I’ll go to hell.” – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Huck has been led to believe it would be sinful to help his friend Jim, a runaway slave. In this chapter, Huck finds his own moral compass and decides to do what he feels is the right thing, even though others have told him he would go to hell for it.

2. Taxdiva

“’Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’” E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

3. juicyfizz

“When a child first catches adults out—when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just—his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden

4. Cloudcanopy

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

5. throwaway421e

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

6. mak11

“We believe that we can change the things around us in accordance with our desires—we believe it because otherwise we can see no favourable outcome. We do not think of the outcome which generally comes to pass and is also favourable: we do not succeed in changing things in accordance with our desires, but gradually our desires change. The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant to us. We have failed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us beyond it, and then if we turn round to gaze into the distance of the past, we can barely see it, so imperceptible has it become.” – Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

7. Pizzahuthut

“Anything worth dying for is certainly worth living for.” Joseph Heller, Catch-22

8. Sadfrogs

“All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

9. student_of_bokonon

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—’God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” – Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

10. Tolkien23

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

11. DeathisLaughing

“All was forgiven. All living things were brothers, all dead things even more so.” – Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

12. faithlovehappiness

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes. People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

13. Boddhisatvaa

“In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils; and on that great Day of which the prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on the day the world is utterly cleansed of evil, then I too will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Until then, I will not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.” ― Roger Zelazny, The Guns of Avalon

14. Felopzd

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was a light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

15. bUbggj2nS7Fz

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

16. Fools_Gold_4_Sale

“So much the worse for those who fear wine, for it is because they have bad thoughts which they are afraid the liquor will extract from their hearts…The wicked are great drinkers of water; As the flood proved once for all.” – Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

17. Uhlyssss

“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.” – Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

18. Green_EggsandSam

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

19. graveyardpeanut

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

20. Antiochli

“Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world’s turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man’s will or whether his own heart is another kind of clay.” – Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

21. battahmonster

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” James Joyce, Dubliners, “The Dead”

22. CecilChaminade

“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” – William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

23. Kimmie_kim_kim_kim

“We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” – George Orwell, 1984

24. CecilChaminade

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

25. ertger

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

26. catch_herintherye

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” – J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

27. slowpoke257

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” – Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

28. mortalitus

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick

29. Aerys1

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”- George Orwell, Animal Farm

30. heknowsitsme

“When I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calendar that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from a chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table. I spent my life learning to feel less. Every day I felt less. Is that growing old? Or is it something worse? You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” – Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

31. Oneinchwalrus

“We look up at the same stars, and see such different things.” – George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

32. CrustyJello

“Then they went into José Arcadio Buendía’s room, shook him as hard as they could, shouted in his ear, put a mirror in front of his nostrils, but they could not awaken him. A short time later, when the carpenter was taking measurements for the coffin, through the window they saw a light rain of tiny yellow flowers falling. They fell on the town all through the night in a silent storm, and they covered the roofs and blocked the doors and smothered the animals who slept outdoors. So many flowers fell from the sky that in the morning the streets were carpeted with a compact cushion and they had to clear them away with shovels and rakes so that the funeral procession could pass by.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

33. Barnsalot

“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” – John Green, Looking for Alaska

34. agbell

“We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately – the object seemed incidental to this will to give ourselves away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of a plunging-into. Flight from exactly what? These rooms, blandly filled with excrement and heat? To what purpose?” – David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest TC mark

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Poetry Lovers! 💖

Love a soft person. The ones who are positive, even in the worst of circumstances. Someone whose strength is not in bravado, but in their quiet. Someone who is strong for others because that is what is needed in that moment. Someone who is the moon that soothes instead of the sun that burns. Someone who sees the very best in people even when you think they aren’t worth it. The kind of person who always wants to do the best for those they love.”

“I bought this on a whim to read as I was resting for the night, and I do not regret it one bit! Everything about the poetry in this book is amazing, heart breaking, and soul searching. It will lift your spirits on your darkest days. I want to thank the author so much for writing this, as it’s something I will be rereading a lot! Always remember, everything about you is important. You matter.” —McKayla

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