| Quote #1
The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that's all there is to read about in the papers – goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner, and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. (1.1)
This passage, which is set smack dab in the middle of the first paragraph of the novel, sets the novel apart from mass media (such as newspapers and popular magazines). Unlike the sensational way that the mass media often covers suicide and adolescent angst, the novel is going to try to take a serious and personally candid look at the matter.
| Quote #2
People were made of nothing so much as dust, and I couldn't see that doctoring all that dust was a bit better than writing poems people could remember and repeat to themselves when they were unhappy or sick and couldn't sleep. (5.60)
Here, Esther imagines her response to Buddy, who looks down on her writing aspirations as a useless hobby. The passage suggests a social function for writing, as a way of comforting people, possibly even as a form of therapy.
| Quote #3
I had read one of Mrs. Guinea's books in the town library – the college library didn't stock them for some reason – and it was crammed from beginning to end with long, suspenseful questions: "Would Evelyn discern that Gladys knew Roger in her past? wondered Hector feverishly" and "How could Donald marry her when he learned of the child Elsie, hidden away with Mrs. Rollmop on the secluded country farm? Griselda demanded of her bleak moonlit pillow." (4.16)
Philomena Guinea, popular novelist, is also a part of the mass media culture that Esther seeks some distance from. With her soap operatic fictions, Philomena Guinea fills the need for romance of her mainly female audience.