61 pages 2 hours read

Thomas Wolfe

Look Homeward, Angel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1929

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Important Quotes

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“O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this most weary unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?” 

(Part 1, Epigraph, Page 3)

Written and placed by Thomas Wolfe at the beginning of Part 1, this epigraph highlights one of the novel’s major motifs. Capturing the sense of restlessness and unease that torments many of the main characters, the epigraph features a stone, a leaf, and a door as objects leading to a final destination of peace and satisfaction, or heaven. The forgotten language symbolizes a connection to the past that may unlock a greater purpose or reason for living. Each symbol here connects to the endless searches that frame the arcs of multiple characters throughout the novel.

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“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 5)

The novel begins with commentary on the universality of the human experience and the connections that make us human across history and time. Human identity is defined by the accumulation of hidden experiences shared in the cycle of birth and death. Eugene explores these ideas of identity throughout the novel as he ponders his own place in the world.

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“He felt that he wanted more than anything in the world, to carve delicately with a chisel. He wanted to wreak something dark and unspeakable in him into cold stone. He wanted to carve an angel’s head.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

Gant discovers his passion in a stonecutter’s shop in Baltimore. He desires to create something from the dark depths of his intense emotions, to take something ugly—like a rock or a dark feeling—and transform it into something intricate and beautiful.