All Over but the Shoutin’ Important Quotes

Rick Bragg

All Over but the Shoutin’

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All Over but the Shoutin’ Important Quotes

1. “I used to stand amazed and watch the redbirds fight. They would flash and flutter like scraps of burning rags through a sky unbelievably blue, swirling soaring, plummeting. On the ground they were a blur of feathers stabbing for each other’s eyes…Once, when I was little, I watched one of the birds attack its own image in the side mirror of a truck…It was as if the bird hated what it saw there, and discovered too late all it was seeing was itself. I asked an old man who worked for my uncle Ed, a snuff-dipping man named Charlie Bivens, why he reckoned the bird did that. He told me it was just its nature” (Prologue, p. xi).

Bragg sees himself and all of his male relatives and neighbors as prone to fighting as part of their natures and their upbringing in the hardscrabble South. They are an angry bunch, often as self-destructive as the redbird attacking the mirror.

2. “Anyone could tell it, anyone who had a momma who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes, who picked cotton in other people’s fields and ironed other people’s clothes and cleaned the mess in other people’s houses, so that her children didn’t have to live on welfare alone, so that one of them could climb up her back bone and escape the poverty and hopelessness that ringed them, free and clean. Anyone could tell it, and that’s the shame of it”(Prologue, xii).

Bragg views the poverty in which he grew up as unjust and unfair. He and his mother and brothers were allowed enough resources to survive but no more than that. There is something immoral about an economic system that oppresses those at the bottom so thoroughly.

3. “I came home to a pale and elegant body in an open coffin, her thin hands crossed on her breast…I have seen so many horrible things in so many places that I have suspicions about God and doubt about heaven, but in that funeral home, I found myself wishing for it, envisioning it. I bet…

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