Jonathan Livingston Seagull Study Guide

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is the story of the title character, a seagull named Jonathan who dislikes fighting over food and prefers to perfect his powers of flight. Becoming estranged from seagull society, Jonathan finds a society of like-minded birds and eventually attains enlightenment with their help. This forms a metaphor for death, with Jonathan moving back and forth between his new idealized home and the world he left behind in order to help others make the journey.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull Quotes

  • For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.
  • Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight — how to get from shore to food and back again.
  • We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.
  • Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thoughts, he lived a long fine life indeed.
  • The gull sees farthest who flies highest.
  • Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding.
  • But the speed was power, and the speed was joy, and the speed was pure beauty.
  • If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we've destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don't you think that we might see each other once or twice?
  • The gulls who scorn perfection for the sake of travel go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel for the sake of perfection go anywhere, instantly.
  • You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn't flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.
  • "The only true law is that which leads to freedom," Jonathan said. "There is no other."
  • "Such promises are only for the gulls that accept the ordinary. One who has touched excellence in his learning has no need of that kind of promise."

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