Beverly quotes T.S. Eliot to Johnna when he is interviewing her for a job as a caretaker for his wife Violet. He's speaking the words of another poet, but he is also broadcasting the fact that he feels sick of his own life. By quoting T.S. Eliot, Beverly is able to communicate his own feelings about life.
"You're thoughtful, Barbara, but you're not open. You're passionate, but you're hard. You're a good, decent, funny, wonderful woman, and I love you, but you're a pain in the ass."
Bill says this to his wife Barbara to finish a fight they are having and to show her that he has to leave her. After having an affair with a college student of his, Bill has been trying to make things right, but Barbara is too angry. When Barbara hits Jean after she is molested by Steve, Bill suffers an explosion of anger towards her and lectures her about why he has fallen out of love with her. This quote shows that his and Barbara's relationship has started to look frightfully like Violet and Beverly's, and he doesn't have the endurance to continue.
"Listen to me: die after me, all right? I don't care what else you do, where you go, how you screw up your life, just... survive. Outlive me, please."
Barbara says this to her daughter, Jean, before going to identify her father's body. It's a statement that rings true for nearly every parent: they don't want to lose their child. But it is said in such an offbeat way that it reveals that Barbara has a strained relationship with her daughter, one that is similar to her own relationship with Violet.
“All women need makeup. Don't let anybody tell you different. The only woman who was pretty enough to go without makeup was Elizabeth Taylor and she wore a ton.”
This quote represents just how cynical and biting Violet can be, especially towards her own daughters. She criticizes their appearance and tells them that they will only get ugly with age. Her wisecrack about Elizabeth Taylor reveals her age, and the fact that she is still in thrall to the celebrities and standards of her time.
“We covered this around Year Three, Bill: that you're the Master of Space and Time and I'm a spastic Pomeranian.”
Barbara makes this biting remark in the middle of a fight with Bill about their marital dynamic. She accuses him of being elusive, absentee, and unpredictable, by sarcastically labeling him "the Master of Space and Time." She then comments on the way that she's been cast in the marriage as a "spastic Pomeranian," to show the ways that people perceive her as annoying, when in reality she cares.
“My point is, it’s not cut and dried, black and white, good and bad. It lives where everything lives: somewhere in the middle. Where everything lives, where all the rest of us live, everyone but you.”
After Steve seduces the underaged Jean, Karen defends him, insisting that Jean must have had something to do with the interaction. While Barbara understandably wants to blame the incident on Steve's indiscretion, Karen insists on his innocence, citing the fact that no issue is completely black and white, and differentiating herself from her sister as someone who live "somewhere in the middle" when it comes to moral judgment.
"When a Cheyenne baby is born, their umbilical cord is dried and sewn into this pouch. Turtles for girls, lizards for boys. And we wear it for the rest of our lives."
Johnna says this to Jean when Jean comes up to the attic to smoke weed. She explains that the pouch around her neck contains her umbilical cord, a spiritual tradition in her culture.
“EAT THE FISH, BITCH!”
After all the other family members have left, Barbara stays on at the Weston house and takes to drinking whiskey like her father. One day, after Johnna makes some catfish, Barbara proves to be a rather insensitive caretaker when she heckles her mother ruthlessly at the dining table. Her nagging crescendos to this line, in which she forcefully orders her aging and sick mother to "Eat the fish, bitch."
“My last refuge, my books: simple pleasures, like finding wild onions by the side of a road, or requited love.”
Beverly says this in the prologue about his books. He is so enamored of his book collection, comparing them rather poetically to a beautiful natural image and a joyous human emotion.
"I like it. It's got a good beat. I'm not old you know."
Violet says this to Ivy when Ivy asks if the Eric Clapton record is hers. The Clapton record represents the fact that Violet has a whole side of herself that her family does not know about. Yes, she is addicted to pills, a rather disturbing part of her, but she also experiences the joys of music, even if she cannot adequately connect with her family members.
August: Osage County Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for August: Osage County is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.