“Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance.  The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin.  But the Hebrew word, the word ‘timshel’ – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice.  It might be the most important word in the world.”


Privately there were some things in Heaven of which she did not quite approve.  There was too much singing, and she didn’t see how even the Elect could survive for very long the celestial laziness which was promised.  She would find something to do in Heaven.

Adam asked, “Do you know where your brother is?”

“No, I don’t,” said Cal.

“Weren’t you with him at all?”


“He hasn’t been home for two nights.  Where is he?”

“How do I know?” said Cal.  “Am I supposed to look after him?”

A war comes always to someone else.  In Salinas we were aware the United States was the greatest and most powerful nation in the world.  Every American was a rifleman by birth, and one American was worth ten or twenty foreigners in a fight.


We had truly believed that Mexicans can’t shoot straight and besides were lazy and stupid.  When our own Troop C cam wearily back from the border they said none of this was true.   Mexicans could shoot straight, goddam it!

It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.

“Dear Lord, […] Don’t make me mean.  I don’t want to be.  If you will let everybody like me, why, I’ll give you anything in the world, and if I haven’t go it, why, I’ll go for to get it.  I don’t want to be mean.  I don’t want to be lonely.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

“… Doxology still thinks he’s one hell of a horse.  Would you shoot him, Adam?”

“Yes, I think I would.  Yes, I would.”

“You’d take the responsibility?”

“Yes, I think I would.  He’s thirty-three.  His lifspan is long over.”


“You would really shoot my horse because death might be more comfortable?”

“Well, I meant-”

Samuel said quickly, “Do you like your life, Adam?”

I think perhaps Liza accepted the world as she accepted the Bible, with all its paradoxes and its reverses.  She did not like death but she knew it existed, and when it came it did not surprise her.

“Why didn’t you tell us?  Maybe we could have done something.”

Tom leaped up, violent and cringing. “Goddam it!  What was there to tell?  That he was dying of sorrow?  That the marrow had melted out of his bones?  What was there to tell?  You weren’t here.  I had to look at it and see his eyes die down – goddam it.”

Violence and shyness – Tom’s loins needed women and at the same time he did not think himself worthy of a woman.