At Swim, Two Boys

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At Swim, Two Boys (2001) is a novel by the Irish writer Jamie O'Neill. Set in Dublin around 1916, At Swim, Two Boys tells a love story evolving during the turbulent times of the Easter Rising. The quotations are taken from the paperback version published 2002 by Scribner (ISBN-10: 0743207149, ISBN-13: 978-0743207140).


  • That's easy fixed. You call me Papa in future, then you'll be equal with your fellows.
    • Ch. 2 (p. 41)
    • Said by Mr. Mack
  • What cheer, eh?
    • Ch. 2 (p. 45) and Ch. 12 (p. 336)
    • Said by Doyler
  • Who's born to hang will never drown.
    • Ch. 4 (p. 103)
    • Said by Doyler
  • He [Mr. Mack] swept away scraping and scrubbing the floor, scratching the boards with the bristles of his broom, [...] Then out the door with it, out out in the road where it came from, out in the street where the muck belonged.
    • Ch. 6 (p. 133)
  • Well, it may so be that a vocation isn't like that. It may so be that a vocation is like a friend you might make. You don't choose a friend. A friend would come to you. And you don't turn him out, no matter what others would say. You're only too thankful if you found him.
    • Ch. 6 (p. 135)
    • Said by Jim
  • Jim would have to sneak the flute indoors somehow. Fix the parts down the sleeves of his jacket, walking in like a scarecrow. Where would he hide it? The only place certain sure was inside the horsehair of his settle-bed. Would it be safe there? He would have to be careful sleeping. Might have to bring it out at night for fear of it crushing. Might have to sleep that way with it in his arms.
    • Ch. 6 (p. 145)
  • Forget your baths, come swimming in the sea. It's different in the sea, don't ask me why, but you don't find the same anywheres else. There's a freedom I can't explain, like your troubles was left in your pile of clothes.
    • Ch. 6 (p. 147)
    • Said by Doyler
  • Half the rate means half a loaf, but nix means nothing on the table.
    • Ch. 10 (p. 282)
    • Said by Doyler
  • Didn't I say we was pals? That's the army way. Nothing you wouldn't do for a pal. Nor nothing he wouldn't do in return. End of the earth you'd go.
    • Ch. 13 (p. 359)
    • Said by Mr. Mack
  • Who sad it first was a wise man that there's no friendship without you're equals. Might as well try be pals with a woman.
    • Ch. 13 (p. 360)
    • Said by Mr. Mack
  • There's a burden to rank that one day you'll understand.
    • Ch. 13 (p. 360)
    • Said by Mr. Mack
  • Every day you see them, up and down the street, selling papers they can't read them or coals they can't burn them or cakes they'd never afford to eat. And their folks inside of Fennelly's knocking back the Christmas spirit.
    • Ch. 14 (p. 386)
  • He asked me once, Doyler did — well, it doesn't matter what he asked. But I couldn't. I was just plain too frightened. I couldn't, even though I wanted to, sure I wanted to kiss him. There, I've told you now.
    • Ch. 16 (p. 433)
    • Said by Jim
  • I always have this notion of being watched, you see. Not by other people. It was myself was watching me. Another me, a different fellow altogether. He never liked me. The way I behaved used truly annoy him. And I was scared of him too.
    • Ch. 16 (p. 433)
    • Said by Jim
  • Let the people be classified into sexes, of which there shall be two, male and female. The criterion shall be generative function: though please to note, this function is ideal and not actual.
    • Ch. 16 (p. 449)
  • Your kind never failed at nothing yet, for you never stopped at nothing long enough to find out.
    • Ch. 16 (p. 456)
    • Said by Doyler about MacMurrough
  • For we live as angels among the Sodomites. And every day the crowd finds some of us out. I know their lewd calls and their obscene gestures. I know the mockery that bides their temper's loss.
    • Ch. 18 (p. 520)
  • Saviour hasn't quite risen yet, but we're working on it. We'll keep you informed. In the meantime, let us, um, pray.
    • Ch. 18 (p. 522)

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