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Great Falls Key Quotes

Great Falls Key Quotes

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Published by Stuart Henderson

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Published by: Stuart Henderson on Nov 05, 2012
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12/04/2012

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Great Falls: Key Quotes
 Again, look for quotes that have multiple roles
 –
they deal with elements of character and theme.
You should all probably try and learn the final quote because this is probably Ford’s most powerful
statement about the modern human condition. It goes beyond just Jackie speaking, to this broader notion of Ford inserting his own voice/opinion through the character he has made.
While this isn’t specifically a quotation, the story is riddled with the words “knew”, “know”, and“seemed” and so, as a consequence
of this repetition, there is a motif of knowledge that runsthroughout the text. The repetition helps the reader understand, through simple, blunt repetition,that the conflict between knowing and seeming to know is at the core of the story.
Editorialising
“This is not a happy story. I warn you.”
 - The reader is immediately implicated in the story through the use of the direct address.The mood of the story is established, as is our awareness that the storyteller knowsthey are telling a story. It sets up this notion that the story is being used for a purposeand therefore introduced to the reader the significance of story telling
 –
 
it’s not a happystory, but it’s important
that the story is told.
“…she thought they could leave the sticks and see the wor 
ld together 
 –
which I suppose they did
for a while.”
 
“And I felt something was wrong…something I didn’t recognize and did not know the importanceof, though I was certain it was important.”
 
“And I don’t remember him ever smiling at me that way again.”
 
I thought even then, with as little as I knew, that these were opportunities other boys would dream
of having but probably never world. And I don’t think I was wrong in that.”
 - The above few examples represent Jackie coming to realisations through the act of story telling. These moments in his life take on greater significance through the story,as they are lifted up out of the chaos of existence into the realm of significance.
“It was on a night such as this that the unhappy things came about.”
 - Similar in impact to the opening line of the story
(Talking about the unusual appearance of an unknown car when they arrive home) “My father saidnothing about it and I didn’t either, thought I think now for different reasons.”
 - Only in retrospect is Jackie able to understand the difference in perspective. As a child,
Jackie doesn’t say anything about the car because he thinks nothing of it. His father doesn’t say anything because he does know what it means –
that someone is there that
shouldn’t be –
 
and he doesn’t know how to explain that to his son. Only by telling the
story can Jackie truly understand this and so bring meaning to this moment that wouldotherwise be lost in the chaos of existence.
“But I hadn’t thought about th
at
 –
though later I would. Later I would think I should have gone with
her, and that things between them might’ve been different. But that isn’t how it happened.”
 
 
“Things seldom end in one event.”
 - Here was have Jackie putting together moments that would not have seem directlylinked at the time. However, by constructing this passage of his life into a narrative (astory) he is able to draw connections between disconnected moments to help give themsignificance.
“I think we both believed we were in a fog we couldn’t see through yet, though in a while, maybenot even a long while, we would see the lights and know something.”
 
“And in any event, I know now that the whole truth of anything is an idea that stops existing finally.”
 - This is a very potent quote
that expresses Jackie’s understanding of the potential lackof universal meaning that surrounds modern existence. It’s the notion that there is no
whole
truth that’s important, no universal truth. It’s by telling the story that Jackie is able
to come to this realisation.
“I thought to myself that my life had turned suddenly, and that I might not know exactly how or which way for possibly a long time. Maybe, in fact, I might never know.”
 
The Problem of Knowledge / The Limits of Certainty
(Look at how ma
ny times the word “know/knew” and “seems/seemed” comes up, as well asobserving how Jackie often uses the phrasing “I thought”, suggesting an attempt to know, but a
knowledge that that ability to know is limited.)
“He liked The Mermaid, and my mother –
as far as I knew
 –
 
didn’t mind it if he went there.”
 
(Jack Russell talking about Jackie’s mum and her idea that no one dies of a broken heart) “Wewere living down in Texas and we’d had some big blow
-
up, and that was the idea she had. I don’tknow why.”
 
“I
did not answer him, but what I thought was that my father knew nothing about farming, and if was right it would be an accident. He knew about planes and hunting game, and that seemed all
to me.”
 
(On first meeting Woody) “He did not seem afraid of anything.”
 
“I could smell the irrigation ditch, hear it hiss in the field…It was nothing Woody knew about,nothing he could hear or smell. He knew nothing about anything that was here.”
 -
This one’s interesting in a different way because it points to how our way o
f seeing theworld is unique, because we each have a unique persective and knowledge of the
world. Jackie can know these sounds and smells because he’s lived them, while Woodycan’t. This is what fundamentally separates humans from each other, this idea th
at
everyone’s knowledge of the world is different and so we can never share perspectives.
 
“I wondered what Woody knew that I didn’t. Not about my mother
 
I didn’t know anything aboutthat and didn’t want to.”
 
“He and I were not so far apart in age, I kn
ew that. But Woody was one thing, and I was another.
 And I wondered how I would ever get to be like him, since it didn’t necessarily seem so bad a thingto be.”
 - points out the irreconcilable difference between one person and another. As much aswe want to know what it is to be someone else, we never can. As a consequence, howcan we ever connect to other human beings if we are always already disconnected fromthem?
 
“ “Did you know your mother was married before?” Woody said.”
 
“…a
 
smile that said he knew something he wouldn’t tell, a smile that made you feel bad becauseyou weren’t Woody and never could be.”
 -
The important part here is the “never could be”, that’s the cold, hard truth from Ford.
 
“…Woody seemed willing to let my father push him.”
 
“…though I thought she was thinking about me, which made me feel strange.”
 
(About his father) “I think he was afraid.”
 
“Everything must have seemed out of hand to him.”
 
“And I wondered what they had to say to each other, something imp
ortant enough that they had to
stop right at the moment and say it…These are not the kinds of things you can know if you werenot there.”
 - This is particularly valuable as a quotation for representing the limitations of knowledge.This conversation between Woody and his mother as they drive away is key for Jackiein terms of understanding both Woody and his mother properly; however, he ispermanently denied access to this conversation, which highlights how limited our knowledge of others is and how we are stranded in a situation where even the peopleclosest to us are ultimately mysteries.
Images of Light
(Our main interest in the light im
agery in this story is they way in which they draw the reader’s
attention to the darkness that surrounds the characters. The light is ways in pools or coming fromspecific fixtures, with everything else around it being dark.)
“…the lights of Great Falls s
ank below the horizon, and I could see the small white lights of farms,
burning at wide distances in the dark.”
 - This is quite nice in terms of the way it develops this notion of pockets of light inamongst the dark. It really shows that we are surrounded by the dark at all times, whichis a nice way for Ford to get across his belief that we are surrounded by theunknowable, or surrounded by chaos.
“And I could see out in the night the yellow lights of our house, shining through the olive trees
south of us
like a ship on the sea.”
 - You get a great feeling of isolation here as a result of the simile. It really helps to showthe emptiness of the surroundings and that sense of being surrounded by the unknown.
“You could see moonlight off the taillight chrome.”
 
“My dog, Major, came out…and stood in the car lights when we drove up.”
 
“Woody and I walked outside and stood in the light of the floodlamp above the side door.”
 
“Woody turned and looked into the dark toward where the glow of Great Falls rose on the ho
rizon,
and we both could see the flashing lights of a plane lowering to land there.”
 
The Gun Symbol

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