The Puttermesser Papers Quotes
by Cynthia Ozick

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Quotes

The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick chronicle events from the life of Ruth Puttermesser.

Some quotes from the novel include:

We’re sorry to lose you.

One of the partners at Midland, Reid & Cockleberry, a prestigious Wall Street firm, says this to Ruth after she decides to leave the firm. She's weary of the affected chivalry of the firm owners toward her. Their conduct keeps reminding her that she's landed the job due to their benevolence, in spite of being a woman and a Jew.

How much does the City invest every day?

The new Commissioner at the Department of Receipts and Disbursements where Ruth is employed knows little about economics and is not bothered to acquaint himself with answers to questions, such as the one above. If asked a question like this, his throat would run dry and he would direct the questioner to his deputy or Puttermesser.

You know everything they know.

Ruth says this to her grand-uncle Zindel, a retired sexton of a synagogue, from whom she's taking lessons in Hebrew. Uncle Zindel suggests that she would learn more if she joined an Ulpan downtown instead of learning from him. Ruth, thrifty by nature, says that it would cost more and she's happy with how her uncle is teaching her.

If you know I have a plane to catch, how come you want to read in bed.

This line is said by Ruth's lover, Morris Rappoport. He is a married fundraiser and has come to visit Ruth to spend time with her. Ruth, forty-six years old now, is uninterested in his company and would rather be reading in her bed. The interaction ends with Morris putting on his clothes and leaving Ruth . . . never to come back.

None of this is personal.

Ruth's new boss at the Department of Receipts and Disbursements, Alvin Turtleman, was wont to say this abstractedly to his employees. He had brought new ideas with him, and he spoke of restructuring and levels of purpose. All this jargon plus the changes that Turtleman was introducing was affecting Rurth's professional life, which till then had been peaceable.