90 pages 3 hours read

Amor Towles

The Lincoln Highway

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Important Quotes

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“‘For some of the young men who come to Salina’, he began, ‘whatever series of events has brought them under our sphere of influence is just the beginning of a long journey through a life of trouble. They’re boys who were never given much sense of right or wrong as children and who see little reason for learning it now. Whatever values or ambitions we try to instill in them will, in all likelihood, be cast aside the moment they walk out from under our gaze. Sadly, for these boys it is only a matter of time before they find themselves in the correctional center at Topeka, or worse. […] What I’m getting at, Emmett, is that you are not one of them.” 


(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 4)

In expressing this sentiment before dropping Emmett off at home at the end of his sentence, Warden Williams hopes to instill in Emmett the sense that he knows Emmett bears remorse for his crime and that he should not let the fact that he committed it define him. Warden Williams acknowledges the distinction between young men for whom Salina is only their first foray into the criminal justice system, and young men like Emmett who, through exceptional and unfortunate circumstances, found himself there for a time. This quote also serves to indicate that Emmett is held in high regard by the administrator of the institution in which he served, and he is acknowledged as not typical of their average inmate. 

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“But if, on the one hand, it was an excuse, on the other, it was an exhortation—an exhortation for Emmett that he should feel no remorse, no, guilt, no hesitation in turning his back on the three hundred acres to which his father had dedicated half his life, as long as he abandoned them in order to pursue without envy of imitation his own portion, and in so doing discover what he alone was capable of.”


(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 30)

Emmett had decided that, following the loss of their family home to the bank, he would take his brother Billy with him, and they would start fresh, somewhere new. Through this note from his father, now deceased, Emmett receives Charlie Watson’s blessing. He relieves Emmett of any obligation or lingering guilt he might have felt for leaving his father’s failed labor of love behind, and he encourages his son to seek his own purpose and success in whatever way is right for him.

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