Home » Best Quotes From John Steinbeck on Life, Love, and Struggle

Best Quotes From John Steinbeck on Life, Love, and Struggle

John Steinbeck was a great American writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. He is best known for his novels about the Great Depression, including The Grapes of Wrath and Mice and Men. Steinbeck’s quotes are often insightful and inspiring, offering wisdom on life, love, and struggle. In this blog post, we will look at some of the best quotes from John Steinbeck!

About John Steinbeck 

John Steinbeck was born in 1902 in Salinas, California, a town that would come to serve as the setting for many of his famous novels. He grew up in a family of modest means and eventually attended Stanford University, where he completed his undergraduate studies. However, after a brief and unhappy period as a schoolteacher, Steinbeck decided to pursue writing full-time.

Over the course of his long and prolific career, Steinbeck became known for his unflinching portrayals of rural life in America and his uncompromising critiques of injustice and inequality. One such novel was “The Grapes of Wrath,” which depicted a family’s journey displaced by the Dust Bowl years and forced to leave their home to search for work in California. This epic tale garnered Steinbeck massive amounts of critical acclaim upon its release in 1939, ultimately winning both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1962, this novel would go on to earn Steinbeck the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Despite his success as an author, Steinbeck never lost touch with the people who populated his stories. He spent many years traveling around America, interviewing everyday Americans about their lives and struggles, using these experiences to shape plots and characters for many of his novels.

However, he will most likely be remembered as one of America’s greatest writers and as one who never strayed from or shied away from depicting the realities facing working-class Americans everywhere.

His unique combination of empathy, insightfulness, honesty and artistic innovation has ensured that his legacy will remain an important part not just of American culture but also world literature for generations to come.

Here are the best Quotes From John Steinbeck

In 1935, Steinbeck joined the League of American Writers, a Communist organization. His contact with other leftist authors, journalists, and labor union figures may have influenced his writing. Let’s look at some of the amazing quotes by john:

1. “Nobody changes. Nobody gets hurt.” – John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

The quote above is a provocative statement that suggests that people are inherently stagnant and unwilling to try new things. By implication, this view implies that human beings are incapable of change or growth and further suggests that any pain we experience is simply an unavoidable fact of life.

However, this perspective ignores the reality of human development and growth – both on an individual and a societal level. While it’s true that no one can change overnight, there are many examples throughout history of individuals and communities rising to the challenge of transformation in order to improve their circumstances and bring about positive change.

Ultimately, while it may be tempting to believe in the deceptively simple message of this quote, there is much evidence to refute its underlying assumptions. In truth, nobody can stay the same forever, and trying to do so will only serve to harm ourselves and others in the long run.

2. “Like most modern people, I don’t believe in prophecy or magic and then spend half my time practicing it.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

3. “Perhaps the less we have, the more we are required to brag.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

4. “Men don’t get knocked out, or I mean they can fight back against big things. What kills them is erosion; they get nudged into failure. They get slowly scared. I’m scared.”- John Steinbeck

5. “Misfortune is a fact of nature acceptable to women, especially when it falls on other women.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

6. “I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

For Steinbeck, love was the driving force behind this strength, it imbued women with an indestructibility that allowed them to weather even the toughest of challenges. In fact, he believed that a woman’s capacity for love gave her an unshakable resilience and boundless energy, allowing her to push forward no matter what obstacles she faced.

This idea is echoed by many throughout history and across different cultures, from ancient wisdom traditions like Buddhism and Hinduism to modern philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Gloria Steinem.

For example, thinkers like de Beauvoir have argued that femininity is intrinsically linked to empathy and compassion; because of their inherent empathy, women are innately driven to protect and defend those around them, making them equally capable of great strength as well as great generosity.

Similarly, Steinem has asserted that women’s capacity for love provides them with a feeling of inner peace and calmness, qualities that allow them to persevere even during moments of intense adversity or distress.

So while it is clear that Steinbeck had much admiration for women’s strength and capacity for love, his words also leave us with the important reminder that this strength does not render women immune to hardship or struggle.

Rather, it enables them to face challenging circumstances without letting negativity overwhelm them or consume their inner being. Ultimately, Steinbeck’s quote reminds us how powerful love can be as a source of strength and a path toward inner resilience.

7. “In poverty she is envious. In riches she may be a snob. Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.“- John Steinbeck

8. “We can shoot rockets into space but we can’t cure anger or discontent.”- John Steinbeck

9. “There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.”- John Steinbeck

10. “To be alive at all is to have scars.”- John Steinbeck

11. “When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you’ve got two new people. Maybe that means hell, it’s complicated.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

When John Steinbeck wrote these words, he was highlighting the transformative power of human connection. He knew that when we meet someone new, there are infinite possibilities for what might happen next. Whether it is a chance encounter on the street or a long-term friendship or relationship, each interaction changes us in some way and brings something new to our lives.

At times, this may be challenging or uncomfortable; relationships are never simple, and there are often many obstacles and uncertainties along the way. Yet ultimately, being changed by another person can also be exciting and inspiring.

It opens us up to new experiences and opportunities, allowing us to continue growing and evolving as individuals.

12. “Any man of reasonable intelligence can make money if that’s what he wants. Mostly it’s women or clothes or admiration he really wants and they deflect him.”- John Steinbeck

13. “I know three things will never be believed – the true, the probable, and the logical.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

14. “Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

15. “For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.“- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

16. “People like you to be something, preferably what they are.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

The quote by John Steinbeck suggests that people often have a sense of animosity or resentment towards those who are different. This feeling is likely rooted in insecurity or fear, as people may be uncomfortable with anything that challenges their established beliefs or worldviews.

In order to mitigate this discomfort, they may try to force others into conformity, propping up those who are similar and disparaging those who are different. However, as Steinbeck points out, much more is to be gained from embracing differences than perpetuating sameness.

We can broaden our horizons and grow as individuals by welcoming diversity and learning from those with unique perspectives and experiences. Ultimately, this will make us better, more interesting people overall.

17. “So many old and lovely things are stored in the world’s attic because we don’t want them around us and we don’t dare throw them out.”- John Steinbeck

18. “It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away. You must want it just enough . . . ”- John Steinbeck

19. “You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.”- John Steinbeck

20. “Only God sees the sparrow fall, but even God doesn’t do anything about it.”- John Steinbeck

21. “Readers seeking to identify the fictional people and places here described would do better to inspect their own communities and search their own hearts, for this book is about a large part of America today.”- John Steinbeck

22. “Death was a friend, and sleep was death’s brother.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

For Steinbeck, death itself is not something to be feared or avoided; rather, it is one aspect of life we will all inevitably face. Similarly, sleep can be seen as an echo of death; as we rest and close our eyes each night, we participate in a small death that allows us to begin anew with renewed energy each morning.

Thus, while these twin ideas may initially seem dark or morbid, they also point to acceptance and understanding: death and sleep are ultimately necessary parts of the larger cycles of nature. Whether we like it or not, they are ultimately friends that remind us of our interconnectedness with the world around us.

23. “But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

24. “You know most people live ninety per cent in the past, seven per cent in the present, and that only leaves them three per cent for the future.”- John Steinbeck

25. “Failure is a state of mind. It’s like one of those sand traps an ant lion digs. You keep sliding back. Takes one hell of a jump to get out of it.”- John Steinbeck

26. “How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past?”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

27. “It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

John Steinbeck believed that having the courage to stand up for what you believe in, even if it goes against prevailing opinions, was one of the most important traits a person could possess. After all, history is filled with examples of people who were on the right side of an important issue but were unable to bring about change because they lacked the bravery and conviction to speak out or take action.

Perhaps the best way to honor those who fought for what was true and just is by following their example ourselves; in this way, we can help ensure that our generation’s beliefs and values persist long after we are gone.

At the end of the day, it takes great courage to back the truth, no matter how unpopular that truth may be at any given time. And in doing so, we bring hope and light to this world, however dark it may seem.

28. “I shall revenge myself in the cruelest way you can imagine. I shall forget it.”- John Steinbeck

quotes from john steinbeck

29. “I nearly always write just as I nearly always breathe.”- John Steinbeck

30. “To a criminal, honesty is foolish.”- John Steinbeck

According to Steinbeck, one key reason criminals are so often able to get away with their actions is that they are unconstrained by any sort of moral code. Rather than being guided by honesty or compassion, they place self-interest above all else.

As a result, they do not feel compelled to follow laws or respect social conventions. Indeed, to a criminal, honesty can seem like nothing more than foolishness; it offers no benefit and does nothing to further their own agendas.

By understanding this insight into criminal psychology, we can begin to formulate more effective ways of combating antisocial behavior in our communities. After all, knowledge is power, and if we are better informed about the forces driving crime, we stand an improved chance of finding lasting solutions.

Let’s Wind Up…

John Steinbeck authored a total of 33 books during his writing career, 16 of which were novels. He co-authored one book with Edward Ricketts and published six non-fiction books and two collections of short stories. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these thought-provoking quotes by John Steinbeck.

What’s your favorite quote from the list? Let us know in the comments below! We’re always on the lookout for new, inspiring material to share with our readers, so if you have any recommendations, please feel free to reach out. Thanks for reading!