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'The Ancient Child' Quotes

N. Scott Momaday's Native American Book


The Ancient Child is a well-known literary work by N. Scott Momaday, award-winning Native-American writer. Here are a few quotes from this famous book.
  • "In the distance there were the voices of children. The air was very still. Paulita Maxwell, Pete's eighteen-year-old sister, did not weep, could not, though her heart was breaking. She kept to the darkness, her eyes open wide, as if to see something there take shape, the invisible become visible. She felt her skin tighten and become as hard and brittle as pottery. She believed that if someone should touch her she would shatter."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 1

  • "In fact Grey was nineteen. She stood not more than five feet five inches in height, but some quality of her posture made her seem taller. She was slender and supple, but her body was compact and strong. Her hair was long and thick and black, so black that it bore a purple sheen. Her eyes were striking; their color ranged from gray to green to violet. They were eyes out of an ancient myth, epic and holy; they might have been Callisto's eyes."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 5

  • "The horse Dog bolted, and butterflies sprang from the grass. They rose to spangle the sky, to become the prisms and confetti of the sun, to make a wide, revolving glitter, an illumination on the air like a magnified swarm. He beat his hooves into the rosy earth, throwing up clods like hail. He raced along with his head and tail high, making a streak like smoke on the skyline. Then, dispassionately, he returned to the girl on the knoll and began to graze."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 7

  • "Set imagined it was to please, but it was to astonish God that he painted. His presumption and arrogance were pronounced and dangerous, for they would certainly lead to the Sin of Despair, thence to death and nothingness. Bent said so, half in jest, only half. Rather, as Set himself said on occasion, he painted in vain, in order to relieve the terrible boredom of God. He expounded: God's boredom is infinite. Surely we humans, even with our etiquette and our institutions and our mothers-in-law, ceased to amuse Him many ages ago. What sustains Him is the satisfaction, far deeper than we can know, of having created a few incomparables - landscapes, waters, birds and beasts. He takes particular pride in the stars, and it pleases Him to breathe havoc upon the oceans. He sighs to the music of the desert at dawn. The eagle and the whale give Him still to ponder and admire. And so must he grieve for the mastodon and the archaeopteryx. And the bear - ah! He used both hands when he made the bear. Imagine a bear proceeding from the hands of God!"
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 13

  • "Dwight Dicks was sullen. He and his son, Murphy, were cleaning out the stalls in the barn. Dwight was a large, rawboned man, standing well over six feet, with a huge, balding head and huge hands. His face was weather-beaten; he seemed always, day or night, to be looking into the sun, squinting, his great mouth forever open in a grimace that was almost like a smile; there were prominent gaps among his yellow teeth, and his large lips were parched and purple. His thick legs were spread apart, and he wheezed as he worked. Murphy was eighteen, almost as tall as his father, with a thick shock of reddish-brown hair and a bland, agreeable face. He was lanky, and his body was hard and corded with muscle. Although there were resemblances between them, it would have been hard to imagine that the boy might one day look like his father."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 18

  • "Lola Bourne bought one of his paintings, an acrylic on paper entitled 'Night Window Man.' It was a strange piece, even to Set, and it was powerful. It was a bright green frame, a window, in which was a roiling blue and gray background, a thick, ominous depth; and from this there emerged a figure, a grotesque man with red hair and red dress, approaching. Set had begun with nothing but color in mind; it had taken form quickly and of itself, as it were. He thought well of it, but he supposed it would not sell."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 21

  • "I think he's about to be transformed..."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 21

  • "Set studied the drawing and applied paint carefully to Grey's face. His had was not steady, but he did a reasonably good job under the circumstances. She was standing so close, looking into his eyes, and her skin was so smooth - and she was so beautiful. What he was doing seemed a very honorable and dignified and intimate thing. There was a slight cleft in her chin, and the daub left the impression of two opposing, black half moons. Jessie and Milo were looking on with interest and approval. Milo had emerged from the tent in the full regalia of the society. He wore a roach headdress, a brilliant red and blue cape, and long black stockings. Even in this impressive uniform, he was a comic caricature of a warrior. Like Worcester Meat, Milo was an original."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 22

  • "He had been afraid of Bent, as he had been afraid of Sister Stella Francesca from the first. But then he loved her, for he was a child, and there was no one else to love."
    - N. Scott Momaday, The Ancient Child, Book 1, Ch. 24

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