Can You Guess the Missing Word from These Classic Book Quotes?

Torrance Grey

"Last night I dreamed I went to ______ again."

This is the first line of Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca." Often dismissed as romance, DuMaurier's novel has a surprisingly hard edge -- it was the "Gone Girl" of its day.

It was a ______ to burn."

You probably recognized this as being from "Fahrenheit 451." The hero burns books for a living in an anti-intellectual world.

"Call me ______."

"Moby-Dick" gives us this classic first line. It's perhaps the shortest in literature.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good _____ must be in want of a wife."

This is the classic first line of "Pride and Prejudice." Seth Grahame-Smith, in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," parodied it as "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of Number Four Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly _____, thank you very much."

The Dursleys, of "Harry Potter" fame, are desperately eager to be seen as normal. This is something their preteen adopted son, Harry, threatens throughout the series.

"All happy _____ are alike; each unhappy _____ is unhappy in its own way."

Tolstoy wrote this philosophical first line. It opens "Anna Karenina," not his better-known classic, "War and Peace."

"You better not _____ tell nobody but God."

Forget the rule about double negatives. This line is from Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" and is written in a vernacular voice.

"Reader, I ______ him."

These are the words of Jane Eyre, in the book of the same name. They're not the closing words, though some people mistakenly remember them that way.

"After all, tomorrow is ______ day."

Many people remember the last line of "Gone With the Wind" as "Frankly, my dear ..." But in the movie, as in the novel, they are these six words, spoken by Scarlett.

"In my younger and more _______ years, my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since."

It's easy to see Nick Carraway, the narrator of "The Great Gatsby," calling himself any of these things. But the correct choice here is "vulnerable."

"That's some catch, that Catch-___."

Of course, it's 22. It's from Joseph Heller's novel of the same name, about the essential insanity of war.

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking ______."

This opening salvo from "1984" is meant to throw the reader into a strange world. However, if you're accustomed to 24-hour time, it's not so odd.

" 'Justice' was done, and the President of the Immortals had finished his sport with ____."

As the final word indicates, this is from "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." It isn't the final line, but quite close to it.

"It was the ____ of times, it was the ____ of times ... "

You likely knew this one. It's the opening phrase of Charles Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities." Far more people know this quote than have actually read the book.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne _______ back into the past."

This is the last line of "The Great Gatsby." At only 26, Scott Fitzgerald nailed the essential ennui of midlife -- the endless failed attempt to get "back to the good old days."

"Who knows but that, on the lower ______, I speak for you?"

Ralph Ellison is borrowing a term from radio in the last line of the "Invisible Man." The narrator is suggesting that the reader's experiences aren't so very different from his.

"We were somewhere around Barstow, at the edge of the desert, when the _____ began to take hold."

It's drugs. Naturally, because this is the first line of Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

"He _____ Big Brother."

This is the devastating final blow of "1984." Winston Smith is not just finished rebelling, he no longer even wants to rebel.

"When ________ woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous vermin."

"The Metamorphosis" is that rare book that straddles the line between literature and science fiction. The protagonist's name, Samsa, echoes that of the writer himself, Kafka.

"It was a queer, sultry _____, the ______ they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

This is from Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar." You can tell from the context the missing words are a time element; it's the season, summer.

"The ____ above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

This line opens William Gibson's "Neuromancer." The classic sci-fi novel was published in 1984.

"The ____ had not pained Harry for nineteen years."

This is the second-to-last line in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which means it finishes the series. Harry's scar has acted as an early-warning sign of trouble in the past, so it's significant that it gives him no trouble in the epilogue.

"I go, but remember! I shall be with you on your _____ night."

Unlike many others in this quiz, this is neither a first or last line. It's from "Frankenstein," and is the monster's chilling promise to his creator.

"Isn't it ______ to think so?"

In "The Sun Also Rises," Jake Barnes is replying dryly to the flirtatious Brett Ashley, when she says they could have had a great time together. Hemingway could have said "nice" here, the more common term -- but his writer's instinct told him to go with "pretty," and a classic last line was born.

"All you have to do is write one ____ sentence."

This is Ernest Hemingway's "pep talk" to himself in "A Moveable Feast." The book is about his life as a young, newly-married writer in Paris.

"I'd never given much thought to how I'd die ... but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this."

This is Bella's narration from the first book in the Twilight series. To grab the reader's attention early on, the book starts with the moment of Bella's impending death, then jumps back several months to tell the story of how she got there.

"There is no greater agony than bearing _________ inside you."

This is from "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. (We feel the same way about unshared gossip, tbh).

"________ never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."

This line is from Antoine de St. Exupery's "The Little Prince." It's a favorite of children and adults alike.

"Whatever we had missed, what we had together was the precious, the incommunicable _____."

This is the final line of Willa Cather's "My Antonia." Cather is best known for her works about prairie life in the United States.

It's only after we've _____ everything that we're free to do anything."

If this sounds familiar, it's not only in the book verson of "Fight Club," by Chuck Pahlaniuk, but the movie, and the song "This is Your Life."

"There is no _____ at Camp Green Lake."

Sound familiar? It's from the YA novel "Holes" by Louis Sachar.

"In the town, they tell the story of the great _____ -- how it was found, and how it was lost again."

This line contains the book's name. It's John Steinbeck's "The Pearl."

"I was told love should be ______."

This quote is from "Gone Girl." The narrator isn't a fan of unconditional love, it turns out.

"In your rocking chair, by your window, you will dream such ______ as you may never feel."

This is the rather preachy last line of "Sister Carrie." Though the book is written in the third person, Dreiser steps in to deliver a moral warning to his creation, Carrie -- who has gained fame on the stage but has nothing in the way of a moral compass.

"Whenever anything happens in America, they have to gold-plate it, like _______."

In Stephen King's "Carrie," this is one character's cynical reasoning for why a TV movie was made about Carrie and the prom massacre. It memorializes (gold-plates) the event, and then "you can forget it."

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About This Quiz

"When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?" All right, that's from a play, not a book. (It's "Macbeth," in case you're keeping score). But there's just something about a great opening line, or closing one, that sticks in the mind. A truly memorable line or two)can cement a book's reputation, lifting it from good to great. 

Are you a connoisseur of memorable lines from literature? We've got a quiz to test your chops. Not all of these quotes are from classic literature; some are from more recent but very popular fiction. (A certain boy wizard might turn up a time or two). Likewise, not all the quotes are first or last lines, though many of them are. Writers like to hook your attention at the beginning, and leave you with a serious thought to chew on. 

Do you know in whose fictional world the clocks struck "thirteen"? Do you remember the name of the main character who awoke to find himself changed into a "monstrous vermin"? Or who gave his creator a terrible warning about "your marriage night"? (Hint: the word 'creator' should clue you in). 

Whether you were an English-class hero or popular fiction is your jam, there's something here for you. Good luck!

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