| Quote #1
Way off ahead of you […] the slab will glitter and gleam like water, as though the road were flooded. (1.2)
Our first vision of America is from the backseat of a Cadillac, with Sugar-Boy at the wheel, on a road that Willie Stark built. It's also a mirage – a mirage that can get you killed if you are hypnotized by it. This seems a nifty metaphor for both the American dream, and maybe the entire novel.
| Quote #2
They ain't real, I thought […]. But I knew they were. (2.103)
Jack is talking about the Commissioner and the Sheriff after his meeting with them in Mason City, the first time he goes there. Jack is commenting on their unabashed racism and small-mindedness. His comment shows a tug-of war between his idealism, and his need to acknowledge truth and reality.
| Quote #3
In the evening, toward sunset, he and the girl walk down the street of the town, now dusty, and move out beyond the houses, where the stumps are. (3.173)
This vision of America is a product of Jack's imagination combined with his knowledge of history. He knows that the Arkansas town where Ellis Burden met his mother was a lumber town. Jack sees this "ruined land" as a metaphor for their ruined relationship.