Charles Portis

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Charles Portis (December 28, 1933February 17, 2020) was an American author, most famous for the classic Western novel True Grit.


True Grit (1968)[edit]

Except as otherwise noted, page numbers correspond to the hardcover Simon and Schuster edition (1968)
  • People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.
    • Chapter 1, p. 9 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • Tom Chaney rode his gray horse that was better suited to pulling a middlebuster than carrying a rider. He had no hand gun but he carried his rifle slung across his back on a piece of cotton plow line. There is trash for you. He could have taken an old piece of harness and made a nice leather strap for it. That would have been too much trouble.
    • Chapter 1, p. 12 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • Now the drummers did not rush out to grab Chaney or shoot him but instead scattered like poultry while Chaney took my father's purse from his warm body and ripped open the trouser band and took the gold pieces too. I cannot say how he knew about them. When he finished his thieving he raced to the end of the street and struck the night watchman at the stock barn a fierce blow to the mouth with his rifle stock, knocking him silly. He put a bridle on Papa's horse Judy and rode out bareback. Darkness swallowed him up. He might have taken the time to saddle the horse or hitched up three spans of mules to a Concord stagecoach and smoked a pipe as it seems no one in that city was after him. He had mistaken the drummers for men.
    • Chapter 1, pp. 14-15 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • I have since learned that Judge Isaac Parker watched all his hangings from an upper window in the Courthouse. I suppose he did this from a sense of duty. There is no knowing what is in a man's heart.
    • Chapter 2, p. 20 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • I have never been one to flinch or crawfish when faced with an unpleasant task.
    • Chapter 2, p. 20 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • I have known some horses and a good many more pigs who I believe harbored evil intent in their hearts. I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces?
    • Chapter 3, p. 29 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • We must each of us bear our own misfortunes.
    • Chapter 3, p. 32 : 'Colonel Stonehill'
  • You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.
    • Chapter 3, p. 37 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.
    • Chapter 3, p. 59 : 'Mattie Ross,' refusing 'Rooster Cogburn's' offer of a drink of whiskey
  • If in four months I could not find Tom Chaney with a mark on his face like banished Cain I would not undertake to advise others how to do it.
    • Chapter 4, p. 72 : 'Mattie Ross' to 'LaBoeuf'
  • If you want anything done right you will have to see to it yourself every time.
    • Chapter 5, p. 75 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • As he drank, little brown drops of coffee clung to his mustache like dew. Men will live like billy goats if they are let alone.
    • Chapter 5, p. 78 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • I have left off crying, and giggling as well. Now make up your mind. I don't care anything for all this talk. You told me what your price for the job was and I have come up with it. Here is the money. I aim to get Tom Chaney and if you are not game I will find somebody who is game. All I have heard out of you so far is talk. I know you can drink whiskey and I have seen you kill a gray rat. All the rest has been talk. They told me you had grit and that is why I came to you. I am not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need and more at the Monarch boardinghouse.
    • Chapter 5, pp. 82-83 : 'Mattie Ross' to 'Rooster Cogburn'
  • I never seen anybody from Texas I couldn't shade. Get cross-ways of me, LaBoeuf, and you will think a thousand of brick has fell on you. You will wisht you had been at the Alamo with Travis.
    • Chapter 5, p. 94 : 'Rooster Cogburn' to 'LaBoeuf'
  • Nothing I like to do pays well.
    • Chapter 6, p. 141 : 'Rooster Cogburn' to 'Mattie Ross'
  • You do not think much of me, do you, Cogburn?
    I don't think about you at all when your mouth is closed.
    • Chapter 6, p. 151 : exchange between 'LaBoeuf' and 'Rooster Cogburn'
  • I had not the strength nor the inclination to bandy words with a drunkard. What have you done when you have bested a fool?
    • Chapter 6, p. 167 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • Most girls like play pretties, but you like guns, don’t you?
    I don't care a thing in the world about guns. If I did I would have one that worked.
    • Chapter 7, p. 178 : exchange between 'Lucky Ned Pepper' and 'Mattie Ross'
  • I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned, or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience! Which will you have?
    I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!
    Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!
    • Chapter 7, pp. 192-193 : exchange between 'Rooster Cogburn' and 'Lucky Ned Pepper'
  • I know what they said even if they would not say it to my face. People love to talk. They love to slander you if you have any substance. They say I love nothing but money and the Presbyterian Church and that is why I never married.
    • Chapter 7, pp. 214-215 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • Time just gets away from us.
    • Chapter 7, p. 215 : thoughts of 'Mattie Ross'
  • My life is over, for all practical purposes. I no longer have enough money to keep a women.
    • Emmett, from Gringos

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