“Homer, I expect you to be of use.” (Ch. 1, p. 46)
These are Dr. Larch’s words to Homer Wells when the young orphan requests to live permanently at the orphanage rather than be adopted again. It is Homer’s destiny to be “of use” at St. Cloud’s Orphanage
“Doctor Larch—Shit or get off the pot!” (Ch. 2, p. 60)As a young man, Dr. Larch hesitates to give an abortion to a prostitute. In disgust at his indecision, she writes him this message. Shortly after writing the note, she dies of a botched back-alley abortion.
“I ain’t quick, I swear.” (Ch. 2, p. 68)The words that are often repeated by women of those times who were seeking abortions. It was believed that abortion was morally acceptable before the third or fourth month, when the fetus “quickens,” or is large enough so that its movements can be felt by the mother. Once the fetus was “quick,” it was believed to have a soul and abortion was no longer acceptable.
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” (Ch. 3, p. 79)The first lines of the book David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens, which Homer Wells reads to the orphans at St. Cloud’s. Like young Copperfield, Homer seeks to be the hero of his own life. The Cider House Rules is a story of that quest for self-fulfillment.
“Good night—you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England!” (Ch. 3, p. 80)Dr. Larch’s words to the orphan boys as he tucks them in each night. To him, they are as worthy of greatness as boys born of royal blood.
“Good night, Fuzzy Stone!” (Ch. 3, p. 118)When young orphan Fuzzy Stone dies of a respiratory infection, Homer Wells lies to the younger boys that he has not died, but was adopted. The boys call out “Good night!” to their lucky companion. In his grief that night, Homer calls out to the wilderness, “Good night, Fuzzy Stone!” In that moment, he says goodbye to his childhood innocence and enters the world of adulthood.
“Just remember, Sunshine…. As long as I stay, you stay. A promise is a promise.” (Ch. 4, p. 129)Melony’s words to Homer. She makes him promise that he won’t leave her behind in the orphanage. When he does, she goes on a mission to find him.
I’m a Bedouin! thought Homer Wells…. He knew that for the Bedouin—come from nowhere, going nowhere—there was no home. (Ch. 6, p. 251)After watching his first drive-in movie, which features a Bedouin on a camel, Homer identifies with the nomad. Part of Homer’s story is his search to find a permanent home, which he eventually discovers is none other than St. Cloud’s.
“Wait and see,” Candy said. “For everything—you have to wait and see.” (Ch. 8, p. 341)Candy’s philosophy in life is to wait and see what happens. Rather than create her own destiny, she lets life happen to her. Homer follows her advice for fifteen years, living in the same house with her and Wally, before he realizes he needs to make a life of his own.
“We got our own rules.” (Ch. 10, p. 430)
The words of Mr. Rose, the boss of the apple-picking crew, when Homer asks him why the men don’t follow the rules posted in the cider house. Mr. Rose’s words underscore a major theme of the novel: when the rules don’t make sense, people have to make their own rules. Homer learns this lesson when he begins to perform abortions. Although the procedure is illegal, he feels he must “break the rules” to do what is morally right.