The Sandcastle Questions and Answers
by Iris Murdoch

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What are some quotes from The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch? This is a study guide question posted by eNotes Editorial. Please identify and analyze at least 3 quotes in your response.

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Mor took her hand in his and let her guide him up the steps. Her grip was firm. They passed between the black holly bushes and released each other. Mor felt a strong shock within him as if very distantly something had subsided or given way. He had a confused feeling of surprise. The moon came out of the clouds for a moment, and suddenly, the sky was seen in motion.

This quote comes from the first meeting of Mor and Carter at Demoyte's party. Carter sets out into the garden to cut roses, and Mor follows along to help her. As they are wandering through the darkness, Mor finds it challenging to keep up, and the two hold hands so she can guide him. When they break contact, Mor feels something strange stir within him, and he describes it as a shock. What subsides are his prohibitions: this is the beginning of his descent into love. Though he doesn't yet realize it, he is in love with Carter, and he is not content with his relationship with his wife.

"When you speak to me like that, Bill," said Nan, "I really wonder why we go on. I really think it might be better to stop." Nan said this from time to time, always in the cool, un-excited voice in which she conducted her arguments with her husband. It was all part of the pattern. So was Mor's reply.

This quote is from the first chapter of the book; the entire section reads this way, with Nan and Bill arguing about this or that. In that chapter, we see the issues that exist in Bill's life, from his wife belittling him to his dissatisfaction with his job, and his desire to pursue a life well-lived.

Bill is turned into a sympathetic character, despite the confrontations with his wife. For example, we understand Bill's desire to move from his current job into political office, but the comments his wife makes, while rough and straightforward, are logically correct. She is correct in stating that he would make less money if he went into office, but Bill still desires to do it. This quote and the entire chapter set us up to understand the whole novel in terms of their relationship issues.

"While the light remains," Said Carde, speaking slowly in his high deliberate voice, "only do not forsake the joy of life. If you shall have given all your kisses, you will give too few. And as leaves fall from withered wreaths which you may see spread upon the cups and floating there, so for us who now as lovers hope for so much, perhaps tomorrow’s day will close the doom."

In the Latin class that Mor teaches, one of his students, Carde, reads a translation from an old text. The focus of the text highlights one of the main drives of Mor in the story, the pursuit of the joy of life. Mor's attention and desires in the book all hinge on the idea of pursuing joy, even at the expense of stability and family.

Mor is facing a mid-life crisis of sorts in the book, and he is looking for something to make his life worth living. He has strong desires for his family, his career, and his love life, and none of them are living up to the standard he believes they should meet. His affair with Carter is directly related to those feelings of inadequacy. In his relationship with her, he finds warmth and validation that he doesn't feel otherwise.

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