Friday Fun — Memorable Scene

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Name one scene from a book that has stuck with you long after you first read it. Bonus points if you have any idea why it’s been thumbtacked to the inside of your brain all this time. 


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Chapter 11 in Douglas Adams’ novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Gordon Way has just been shot to death. Someone popped out of the trunk (or, “boot,” as Adams says) of Way’s rather expensive motorcar and fired his own shotgun at him. It’s nighttime and the road is covered in mist as Way, in his new and unwelcome non corporeal form, begins to make his way slowly up the highway.

He trudged despondently from lamppost to lamppost, stopping at each one to look at bits of himself. 

He was definitely getting a bit wraithlike.

At times he would fade to almost nothing, and would seem to be little more than a shadow playing in the mist, a dream of himself that could just evaporate and be gone. At other times he seemed to be almost solid and real again. Once or twice he would try leaning on a lamppost, and would fall straight through it if he wasn’t careful. 

I have no claim on any bonus points, because I have NO idea why this little snippet of a scene has been lodged in my gray matter since I first read this book as a teenager. But, to this day, I think of it whenever I am driving down a misty road. I look for Gordon Way, slouching along the shoulder of the road, examining the fading opacity of his one solid being. Maybe someday I’ll actually see him.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I hucked The Once and Future King across the room when I got to the part, three-quarters through, about the unicorn. If you’ve read it, you’ll know the scene I mean. It’s stayed with me and I read it when I was 12.  I can think of a lot of other books I think of often, but no particular scene comes to mind (other than that awful, well-written, vivid one I just mentioned.)

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: Interesting question…one scene that leaps to mind is in Stephen King’s It, the first description of what ‘it’ looks like and how totally creeped out I was (because the imagination is a powerful tool). Then when the novel was turned into a TV miniseries, the scary factor dropped significantly.

There was a scene at the end of a manuscript I edited a few years back (do not recall name of author or book title). I was totally enthralled by the novel, loved the entire story, the suspense, the characters, everything. I was so curious about how the book would end – if it would be open for a follow-up, become a series, or remain a standalone. And, holy moly, I practically threw my laptop out the window when the novel wrapped up — the last paragraph or two — saying the entire thing had been A DREAM! It was worse than that whole Dallas (TV show) and “who shot J.R.” mystery. I have never had such a physical negative reaction to a novel before or since then. So, so disappointing. The author was “going for a strong reader reaction.” He succeeded at that! It still gets my blood boiling how manipulated and cheated I felt as a reader.

Deborah Lee LuskinDeborah Lee Luskin: So many! And for so many mysterious reasons! Here’s a random compilation:

  • The paragraph that describes “It” in Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time. I read this so long ago, all I can remember is loving this paragraph and rereading aloud to anyone who would listen when I was in fifth or sixth grade.
  • The garden scene in Jane Eyre, when Mr. Rochester’s cigar is smoking a cigar. Or the first time he and Jane meet, while she’s walking into town and Mr. Rochester’s horse spooks and throws him.
  • When Elizabeth Bennett is visiting Pemberly and thinks to herself, “Of all this, I might have been mistress.” (Pride and Prejudice)
  • The conversation at the White Hart between Anne Elliot and Captain Harville about who suffers longer when all hope is lost, men or women, in Persuasion.
  • Time Passes, the middle section of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.
  • Dicken’s description of the Veneerings near the beginning of Our Mutual Friend.
  • The rape scene in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, when the daughter is locked in the bathroom and the father is locked out.

And my “throw the book across the room” moment: The end of Jodi Picoult’s novel, My Sister’s Keeper, which I used for a Literature and Medicine course. After animating the difficult moral and ethical issues of medical emancipation the entire story is hijacked by a fatal auto accident – essentially giving a too-easy ending to the problems so carefully laid out. I felt cheated – and have never read another Picoult novel as a result.


27 thoughts on “Friday Fun — Memorable Scene

  1. The scene in Salem’s Lot where Danny Glick is hanging outside the window begging his mother to let him in. I often wonder if I remember it correctly. Anyway, it got stuck in my brain because of so many things… One of those is I really believe in this sort of things based on my experience, my culture and my upbringing. For most people it’s probably the “there is no such things’ sort of mentality but I am not most people and I’ve seen a lot.

    • That book was WAY too scary for me, partly because I also believe that we don’t know everything about everything, and there are most certainly inexplicable (and sometimes frightening) things in our world.

      • The things that scare me the most are the ones that are ordinary because it can happen. Maybe that’s why Nightmare on Elm street is the father of all horror movies to me (others are are just laughable. in fact, most are) because everybody falls asleep sometimes and anyone can have nightmares. It doesn’t necessarily always have to be Freddy…

  2. In my teens from ‘Time Enough for Love’ Robert Heinlein where the 2000 year old Lazarus Long, nee Wilson, is rescued from a slow death in the trenches of the First World War and returned to his present: 3896AD.

    • I love, love, LOVE that book, and am desperately in need of a long overdue re-read. Ahhh … Lazarus Long. What a character.

  3. Empathy – you attach to a familar context. My grandfather, born 1896 and called Wilson served in the First World War. And what small boy any age cannot relate to the predicament Pip finds himself in?

  4. For me it was Jane Eyre. The paragraph where Jane’s friend Helen dies at the school. It was so well written that I felt rage against the injustice of it and deep sadness for Jane. It stayed with me because of the vivid depiction and the heartbreak of a child’s innocence being taken from her. They also have a conversation about God which again I found so poignant. See below:
    “Where is God? What is God?”

    “My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what he created. I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly in his goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to me.”

    “You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven; and that our souls can get to it when we die?”

    “I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to him without any misgivings. God is my father; God is my friend: I love him; I believe he loves me.”

    “And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?”

    “You will come to the same region of happiness; be received by the same mighty, universal Parent, no doubt, dear Jane.”

    Again I questioned; but this time only in thought. “Where is that region? Does it exist?” And I clasped my arms closer around Helen; she seemed closer to me than ever; I felt as if I could not let her go; I lay with my face hidden on her neck. Presently she said in the sweetest tone,‹

    “How comfortable I am! That last fit of coughing has tired me a little; I feel as if I could sleep: but don’t leave me, Jane; I like to have you near me.” “I’ll stay with you, dear Helen: no one shall take me away.”

    “Are you warm, darling?”


    “Good-night, Jane.”

    “Good-night, Helen.”

    She kissed me, and I her, and we both soon slumbered.

  5. I have 2.
    First, to expose my inner geek, the scene in Lord of the Rings where Sam thinks Frodo is dead after he got nabbed by Shelob. I had to put the book down for a while because I was really afraid he might have been dead.

    The second is the rape scene from Julie of the Wolves. I was pretty young when I read this, and this is the only thing I remember from that book. I can’t even remember if I actually did read the whole thing. I think it was probably my first time reading something like that.

    • That scene from Tolkien is such a perfect example of the “all is lost” moment. I remember being devastated when I read that for the first time (I was in the third grade!). It still gets me, even now.

      Your second pick from Julie of the Wolves has me thinking I need to re-read that book. I recall it as a childhood favorite, but I have no recollection of that scene, or, indeed, of much else. Sad how some stories slip from our minds, leaving only an indistinct taste in our memory. I think I have a copy around here somewhere. I’ll have to go look.

  6. For me it has to be the last moments of ‘the kite runner’… I think Khaled Hosseini’s work is amazing. I think after being glued to the book, the last moments will stay in my head for some time I’m sure.

  7. I am with Deborah, the confrontation between Meg and “IT” in Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time. As soon as the question was asked, that was the scene that sprang to mind. I was not surprised to see it on another’s list. I read this book as a re-teaner almost 50 years ago. I was a Math nerd long before it was cool for girls to like Math. Suddenly, here was this novel where the hero was, not only a girl, but a Math nut! I became so invested in her character I remember having trouble breathing when I read that amazing scene.

    • Another comment that is inspiring me to consider a re-read. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve enjoyed those amazing books, the first one especially. Boy, I have a LOT of reading to do all of a sudden!

      Thanks for chiming in!

  8. I just got done reading Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury…it was amazing!!! I don’t have a particular scene that stuck out just the whole book was wonderful to see how the spiritual relam helps us even when we don’t even know it!!!

  9. Suddenly I’m overwhelmed with too scenes coming at me. I feel suffocated! Good grief. Maybe in Beloved when we learn about the baby’s death. Maybe in The Dollmaker when there is the accident at the traintracks.

  10. If I really think about this there are so many to choose from.
    Cormac MCCarthey’s “The Road” has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s also like, pick a scene, any scene. They stick with you.
    I like the one where they find the underground shelter filled with food, for hope’s sake.
    Then the scene where they saw a burned man in the road and the boy wanted to help him. The father said there was nothing they could do. That the boy maintained his attitude in spite of the horrors they faced every day was astounding to me.

  11. I read Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn in third grade. (Yep, I’ve been reading teen novels since third grade. Go figure.) It might be because it was my first foray into teen fiction, full-length novels, science fiction, historical fiction, or romance ever, but this one scene has always stuck with me.

    The main character (Jane) is aboard the Titanic, and she and the love interest (Thad) are saying all this lovey dovey stuff, and then he proposes, and then they write how much they love each other on a piece of paper and release out into the wind at sunset… Thinking about it now, I realize it’s actually really, really cheesy, but somehow my nine-year-old brain decided to hang on to it.

  12. Thanks for a unique exercise. Great way to start a Saturday morning. I’ll be thinking of my reading “moment of being” all day. More to come on that. Indeed, I think I’ll ask my grandkids for theirs–my two grandsons are avid readers.

  13. My goodness, that’s a hard question! I would have to say a scene that stuck with me is from “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne. As a quick background to the story, the tale follows the friendship between two young boys, Bruno (the son of a Nazi officer) and Shmuel (a Jewish boy incarcerated within Auschwitz). The story is tragic because both young boys are killed in the concentration camp, but there is a scene just at the end of the book in which both boys are together and comforting each other right before their tragic fate that was just so heart-wrenching to read that I haven’t forgotten it, even though it’s been about seven years since I read the novel.

  14. Here is a scene that remained in my memory, and is also one of my favorite pieces of text, from “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.”
    “The castle of Cair Paravel on its little hill towered up above them; before them were the sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and seaweed, and the smell of the sea and long miles of bluish-green waves breaking for ever and ever on the beach. And oh, the cry of the seagulls! Have you ever heard it? Can you remember?”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

    Every time I’m at the beach, I ask myself, “Have you heard it? Can you remember?”

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