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Your favorite book scenes (and why)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by KnightWriter, Mar 24, 2003.

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  1. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 6, 2001
    For all of us who read books (and I imagine that applies to most people here), I think it's safe to say that we all have scenes that stand out in our mind (at the time or after the fact).

    I'd like to see what different people consider to be memorable scenes in books they've read, and give an excerpt of it if possible.

    This particular scene is from The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, written by Chris Fuhrman. The author died at the age of 34, as his only book went to press.

    [blockquote]I've always encountered myself as a stranger, an unfamiliar boy in photographs, reflections. It's not the same me I recognize in dreams. I knew I didn't like this boy either, I couldn't even stand the way he looked, drunk and dopey and standing around while this little girl indulged in hysterics. I let go of Margie's wrists and she smacked the glass hard, and a crack ran from one corner to its diagonal opposite.

    What I did next began an an accident. I thought it, and then was doing it before I could stop. I punched my mirror face. Pieces fell on the vanity table, a noise that made me angrier, enraged at my own violent stupidity. Margie gasped. The boy didn't vanish, he scattered into fragments, and I punched the mirror again and again, the same animal rhythm my father used when he beat me, a sick crashing ecstasy with the glass all falling, Margie tugging back on my waist, until I was thudding wood, leaving dull bloodstains. I swung my elbow and the mirror frame jumped cracking against the wall.

    You can't kill your own reflection. Each shard contained another version.[/blockquote]

    This scene was not in the film adaptation of the book, which disappointed me, but at the same time, I don't know if it could have lived up to the intensity the writing delivered. It takes adolescent fury and puts it into a single shot, and you can visualize it like you were watching it in front of you. By no means am I easily able to visualize what I'm reading, but I had no trouble with this scene.

    Thoughts on this scene would be great, along with seeing memorable book scenes from others :).
  2. Vaderize03

    Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Oct 25, 1999
    I personally love "The Voice of Saruman" from The Two Towers. Not shown in the movie, or even filmed, if I'm not mistaken.

    It takes place towards the middle of the novel. Gandalf, Merry and Pippin, Theoden and a company of riders travel to Orthanc, and Gandalf gives Saruman a chance to redeem himself for his past indiscretions. Saruman refuses, and Gandalf reveals himself as The White, the new Head of the Order in his place. He deposes Saruman and breaks his staff, leaving him greatly diminished. Finally, in anger Wormtongue throws the palantir down, meaning to strike Gandalf in the head, but he misses and the Seeing Stone of Orthanc is now in the possession of the good guys.

    It would have made a great scene. It's a shame it wasn't included in the movie.


  3. obaona

    obaona Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 18, 2002
    My absolute favorite was the dinner scene from Lois McMaster's Bujold's A Civil Campaign.

    Not only are there nutritious bug poop that Miles' (the main character) clone brother put in the meal - as it was his business enterprise, and he wanted to sell the stuff - there was secret courting discovered (she was NOT happy), revelations about a couple (who the parents didn't know was a couple) and their . . . private life ;) , the whole thing was written just brilliantly. Pages and pages of brilliance! Rarely, if ever, have I seen words and description so wonderfully used to create an overall engrossing effect and stunning humor. :)

    I laughed so hard I cried. Only the first three times I read it, though. ;) :p
  4. solojones

    solojones Chosen One star 9

    Sep 27, 2000
    In Catch-22 when everyone is sitting on the beach and the narration is carrying on in it's normal sarcastic tone... then all of a sudden one of the characters (Hungry Joe?) is chopped in half by McWatt's plane diving too low. Then McWatt crashes intentionally into the side of a mountain. Then everyone starts mourning the loss of Doc Daneeka, who was listed as being on board, but is standing right beside them... and we re-enter satire. Very schocking and revealing of how life goes on even after something horrible like that.

    The most powerful scene from that book, though, is probably when we finally realize why Snowden has been saying "I'm cold" throughout the whole novel, because it's sort of the tie up of the entire novel... but I won't reveal that one because it would be too big of a spoiler. Anyone who's read it knows, and would probably agree that it's gut-wrenching.

    My favourite uplifting scene from that book, though, is the ending. The way it's written is so incredibly clever.

    "You'll have to jump."
    "I'll jump!"

    :D I love that book. Has many great scenes.

    [hl=slateblue]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
  5. mrslush50

    mrslush50 Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 22, 2003
    All of the classroom scenes from Starship Troopers. (If you haven't read it don't bash it just because you didn't like the movie. The book is completely different.)

    There is some really deep philosophical stuff in there. And much of it relates to current world events. I recommend it to anyone who likes good SF, or just good books.

    Or how about the storm scene in Into Thin Air. Jon Krakauer's book is possibly the best adventure book ever written and this scene is incredibly moving.

  6. Jansons_Funny_Twin

    Jansons_Funny_Twin Jedi Knight star 6

    Jul 31, 2002
    By far, my favorite book scene of all time was near the end of Tom Clancy's Executive Orders.

    In it, a greatly unprepared U.S., Kuwaiti, and Saudi fighting force is kicking ass against the armies of the United Islamic Republic (Created from the merging of Iran and Iraq after Saddam's assassination), while the United States is under a biological attack (Aerosolized Ebola) perpetrated by the UIR.

    Anyway, the best part is where U.S. Special Forces has a camera and a laser designator aimed at the palace of the UIR leader while President Ryan lists all of the crimes that the man had done, including the war, the biological attack, and assassination attempts on him and his family. Then he says the best line ever.

    "This is the response of the United States of America."

    Then two 500-pound bombs hit, all on live television all over the world.

    The best part is that someone tried to run out of the building before the bombs hit.

    They didn't make it. [face_devil]
  7. mrslush50

    mrslush50 Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 22, 2003
    Speaking of Clancy novels, how about the scene in the Spanish theme park in Rainbow Six. 10 guys repel down through windows and take out 4 or 5 terrorist with well placed shots to the head. All while the terrorist have guns trained on a bunch of kids they took hostage. The whole scene only takes a few seconds but it last several pages. The tension he creates is incredible.
  8. Jansons_Funny_Twin

    Jansons_Funny_Twin Jedi Knight star 6

    Jul 31, 2002
    Loved that scene.

    I loved how Rifle Two-Two shot the one guy's gun, while Two-One took out the guy with a gut shot.

    "Guess I slapped the trigger a bit."

  9. B'omarr

    B'omarr Jedi Master star 6

    Apr 7, 2000
    One of my favorite scenes is the ending to Steinbeck's "East of Eden". It's a beautiful end to an amazing book. "Timshel".

    Another one of my favorites is from Kerouac's "On the Road", where he's in the hills above San Fransico, spinning around and around, and thinking "where in the world is the woman I love?"
  10. RubberDuckyfromSpace

    RubberDuckyfromSpace Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 28, 2002
    Probably when Gatsby is driving Nick out to New York in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and gives the ficticious history of his life. But I'm also partial to the first line of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." and the stories about how Jose Arcadio Buendia studies the inventions brought by the gypsies.
  11. JediMasterAaron

    JediMasterAaron Jedi Knight star 5

    Oct 14, 2000
    Some great stuff here, so I'll add my two cents.

    One of my favorite scenes comes from a book I just finished reading, entitled Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara. For those of you who are interested at all in the Civil War, you'll probably know that his father Michael Shaara wrote arguably the most popular Civil War era book ever, with The Killer Angels. Gods and Generals takes you inside the heads of 4 characters who were at the heart of the war, from the first rumblings of secessionist dissent, all the way up until the eve of Gettysburg. The four characters are Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson of the Confederacy, and Winfield Hancock and Joshua Chamberlain of the Union. All of the characters are written with such depth, such utter emotion, that I found myself identifying with them in ways that I never have with literary characters. But the one that stuck out in my mind the most, was the easiest to visualize, was without a doubt "Stonewall" Jackson.

    Throughout all of my history classes, I had learned that Stonewall was a consummate field general. What I learned from this book, which bases ALL of it's events on factual documents of the Civil War, is just how effective he was. Jackson was absolutely terrifying, and the level of mystique that his name carried at the time was simply astonishing. He believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Confederacy would win the war because it was God's divine will. His every thought, every action, was made under the notion that God approved of him because of the sacrifices he had made, and because of this he projected this sense of...invincibility. This section of the book is just one of many that describes what I'm talking about, and it gave me goosebumps the size of mountains when I read it.

    [blockquote]Jackson stared at him, and Lee turned toward him, looked hard into the sharp blue eyes. Jackson did not look away, and Lee said, "General, once again God is challenging us, offering us another opportunity. We must strike the enemy before he can go any farther." He looked away now, across the open fields, the town, the river. "I had thought...we had done enough...that He would be pleased..."

    Jackson stared at him, at the soft white beard, the fact of a man growing old, then he looked up, beyond, sad, "General Lee, if it will please God, we will kill them all."[/blockquote]

    *shivers* This was one scary dude. Here's one more.

    [blockquote]The great blue masses began to move forward, thinning out, shaping into long lines, and the Federal guns opened again, more of them, a massed artillery barrage on the woods where Jackson's men crouched. Lee turned, saw Jackson looking through field glasses, said "General, it seems that your men will open the day."

    Jackson turned, put down the glasses, and Lee saw the look, the blue fire, the raw, silent screaming in the eyes. Jackson did not speak, gave a short salute, and Taylor was there, had his horse. Jackson climbed up and pulled his hat down low on his head, hiding his face.

    Longstreet said, smiling, "General, there's an awful lot of them out there. Don't they scare you just a bit?"

    Jackson tilted his head, glared at him, sad, "We will see if now I will scare them."[/blockquote]


    I encourage everyone who hasn't read it to do so immediately.

  12. solojones

    solojones Chosen One star 9

    Sep 27, 2000
    RubberDucky, I also love The Great Gatsby. I'm not sure what my favourite scene from it would be, though. It has so many good ones.

    [hl=slateblue]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
  13. Padawan915

    Padawan915 Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 1, 2002
    One of my favorite scenes in any book was the hotel scene in Catcher in the Rye. Holden's sexual anxiety with the woman (prostitute) and dialogue was priceless, and shows that beneath his tough shell, he still has inhibitions and doesn't have the strong self-image that we all thought he had. It perfectly shows, that even though he acts older than he is at times, he's still a boy at heart, and doing things like being sexually scared. Salinger's dialogue was incredible, and this scene shows Holden's transition from the cocky individual we see at first into the more accepting, growing individual by the golden ring scene.
  14. RidingMyCarousel

    RidingMyCarousel Jedi Master star 6

    Feb 20, 2002
    That was a good scene in that novel, Pada. I remember just seeing his character break before his own eyes and I was happy that reality finally struck him in his own eyes.

    I just remember how pissed off the prostitute was to be awoken in the middle of the night and Holden had entirely changed his mind. Oh, that was certainly classic. In a sick, deprived sort of way.

    As for my favorite scene.. Well, it comes from a book called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's actually the entire first chapter of the novel. I remember how the guy is about to have his house bulldozed and how the contractor was telling him that he had so and so amount of time to protest to a highway going right where his house is, but the documents were in the very basement of the downtown court office and such; no letter of notice was sent out or anything. The house was to be destroyed just because a highway was needed. And then, at the end of the chapter, these aliens come and announce that Earth is to be destroyed because of an inter stellar highway that'll be going through the Sol system and they've had (I think) 50 Earth years to go protest on some other planet.. (heh, and nobody on Earth seemed to have the belief in aliens, let alone interstellar technology). So, Earth has two minutes to be destroyed and such. Oh, such the irony, when the guy who eventually bulldozes the one man's house hears that on the loudspeaker...

    Heh, at least I thought it was funny. In a sick and twisted sort of way.

  15. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 6, 2001
    These are certainly some interesting excerpts and thoughts. I'll have to think of another book to use :).
  16. Vaderbait

    Vaderbait Jedi Knight star 6

    Sep 26, 2001
    By far, my favorite book scene of all time was near the end of Tom Clancy's Executive Orders.

    I loved the scene you mentioned, Clancy has quite a few of those types of scenes. Another one worth mentioning is the climax of The Bear and the Dragon, where the Chinese ICBMs are heading for Washington, and the Navy is sitting in dock ready to test out the new anti-missile system. Very nail-biting climax.


    Gods and Generals is also extremely good. It's second sequel, The Last Full Measure is even better, though. Some of the closing scenes of that book, leading up to and during the Appomattox meeting between Grant and Lee actually brought me to near tears, which a book, no matter how good, has never done for me before.
  17. noggins

    noggins Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 29, 2000
    Despite being a book I haven't even finished yet, the scene in The Guns of the South in which Lincoln surrenders to Lee after the South takes Washington is fantastic. The two remain gentlemen throughout but the emotion is just fantastic...

    And probably the third chapter of Wuthering Heights in which Cathy's ghost comes to the window, scaring Lockwood silly... then Heathcliff's reaction that followed when he calls out to her. It took me ages to get into the book but once I read that part I just got stuck in it!
  18. ArnaKyle

    ArnaKyle Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 12, 2000
    Warning, spoilers on the great ending to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. If you haven't read the book, don't read my post and go read the book. :p

    For me, personally, I think one of the greatest literature scenes is when McMurphy comes back from his lobotomy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Chief and the rest of the patients are horrified, and immediately deny that such a thing ever could happen to McMurphy. Chilling, beautiful, and a really fine portrait of emotion. In this scene, we are shown that the patients are not "out of touch" as they are shown, they are not always shy nervous creatures with stutters and beautiful hands waving in the air. This scene is just magnificent, and the tension it builds for the end of the book is as well-- McMurphy's blankness is too painful for Chief, who suffocates McMurphy, unable to bear seeing him so weak, so devoid of life. What a great book.

    I might come back later and comment on some others, I really also like the scene/chapter in In Cold Blood where Perry rifles through his letters and memories of the past.
  19. Epicauthor

    Epicauthor Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 2, 2002
    The Belgariad, Book 3

    [blockquote]It was an hour later when Aunt Polcame around to the table to them, her eyes somber.

    "How's the mare?" Ce'Nedra asked quickly.

    "Very weak, but Ithink she'll be all right."

    "What about the baby horse?"

    Aunt Pol sighed, "We were too late. We tried everything, but we just couldn't get him to start breathing."

    Ce'Nedra gasped, her little face suddenly a deathly white. "You're not going to just give up, are you?" She said it almost accusingly.

    "There's nothing more we can do, dear," Aunt Pol told her sadly. "It took too long. He just didn't have enough strength left."

    Ce'Nedra stared at her, unbelieving. "
    Do something!" she demanded. "Your're a sorceress. Do something!"

    "I'm sorry, Ce'Nedra, that's beyond our power. We can't reach beyond that barrier."

    The little princess wailed then and began to cry bitterly. Aunt Pol put her arms comfortingly about her and held her as she sobbed.

    But Garion was already moving. With absolute clarity he now knew what was expected of him, and he responded without thinking, not even running or hurrying. He walked around the stone table toward the fire.

    Hettar sat crosslegged on the floor with the unmoving colt in his lap, his head bowed with sorrow and his manelike scalp lock falling across the spindle-shanked little animal's face.

    "Give him to me, Hettar," Garion said.

    "Garion! No!" Aunt Pol's voice coming from behind him, was alarmed.

    Hettar looked up, his hawk face filled with sadness.

    "Let me have him, Hettar," Garion repeated very quickly.

    Wordlessly Hettar raised the limp little body, still wet and glistening in the firelight, and handed it to Garion. Garion knelt and laid the foal on the floor in front of the shimmering fire. He put his hands on the tiny ribcage and pushed gently. "Breathe," he almost whispered.

    "We tried that, Garion," Hettar told him sadly. "We tried everything."

    Garion began to gather his will.

    "Don't do that Garion," Aunt Pol told him firmly. "It isn't possible, and you'll hurt yourself if you try."

    Garion was not listening to her. The cave itself was speaking to him too loudly for him to hear anything else. He focused every thought on the wet, lifeless body of teh foal. Then he stretched out his right hand and laid hispalm on the unblemished, walnut-colored shoulder of the dead animal. Before him there seemed to be a blank wall - black and higher than anything else in the world, impenetrable and silent beyond comprehension. Tentatively he pushed at it, but it would not move. He drew in a deep breath and hurled himself entirely into the struggle.

    "Live." He said.

    "Garion, stop."
    "Live," he said again, throwing himself deeper into his effort against that blackness.

    "It's too late now, Pol," He heard Mister Wolf say from somewhere. "He's already committed himself."

    "Live," Garion repeated, and the surge he felt welling up out of him was so vast it drained him utterly. The glowing walls flickered and then suddenly rang as if a bell had been struck somewhere deep inside the mountain. The sound shimmered, filling the air inside the domed chamber with a vibrant ringing. The light in the walls suddenly flared with a searing brightness, and the chamber was as bright as noon.

    The little body under Garion quivered, and the colt drew in a deep shuddering breath. Garion heard the others gasp ad the sticklike legs began to twitch. The colt inhaled again, and his eyes opened.

    "A miracle," Mandorallen said in a choked voice.

    "Perhapes even more than that." Mister Wolf replied, his eyes searching Garion's face.

    The colt struggled, his head wobbling weakly on his neck. He pulled his legs under him and began to struggle to his feet. Instinctively, he turned to his mother and tottered toward her to nurse. His coat, which had been a deep solid brown before Garion had touched him, was now marked on the shoulder with a single incandescently white patch exactly the size of the mark on Garion's palm.

    Garion lurched to his fee
  20. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 6, 2001
    Hoping to get some other scenes and thoughts :).
  21. Drew_Atreides

    Drew_Atreides Jedi Master star 5

    Apr 30, 2002
    ....well, i'd have to say the scene in "Dune Messiah" (By Frank Herbert) where the Stoneburner goes off and Paul is blinded (though he can still see!)...That scene is the most jaw-dropping that i've ever read in a book.
  22. Ty-gon Jinn

    Ty-gon Jinn Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jan 12, 2000
    Vaderize03 - The Voice of Saruman is going to be in the ROTK movie -- at least, it had better be. That palantir is fairly significant. Shelob's going to be in ROTK, too. I'm just ticked off that the Scouring of the Shire got bumped for it... I'd rather see the trip back through Middle-Earth than the extra forty-five minutes of Helm's Deep.


    My favorite book scene is Chapter 11 (The conversation with the Voice) of C.S. Lewis' Perelandra. The passage from It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom to My name also is Ransom makes more profound statements than most nonfiction, and it defines the work so well... there's also a real feeling running through it reminiscent of Mere Christianity, one of my favorite books of all time.

    Admittedly, it's blatantly religious fiction, so it's not for everyone. I find it amazing.
  23. Sam_Skywalker

    Sam_Skywalker Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 30, 2003
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the Land of Shadow chapter. The description of Mordor made my throat parch. Amazing.
  24. soitscometothis

    soitscometothis Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 11, 2003
    I love the part in Fear and Loathing... where Hunter describes how to deal with traffic cops. The pay-off is at the end when he realises he has screwed-up big-time. Very funny.

  25. Captain_Typho

    Captain_Typho Jedi Master star 5

    Jul 30, 2003
    Denethor setting the tomb on fire in The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. That has to be the most on the edge of your seat reading experience I have ever had. Cause while reading it I was so nervous cause you knew Faramir was alive and Denethor was getting ready to light him on fire cause he was insane. And then the end of the scene where Denethor is locked inside the tomb and burns. I was so anxious during that scene. I just coudn't sit still.
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