20 Great Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA

One of the best ways to teach students how to integrate literary and rhetorical devices into their writing is to imitate the style of great writers.  

Here are 20 Great Literary Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA:


IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
— John F. Kennedy


I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.
— William Faulkner, "Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech"


Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
— Patrick Henry, "Speech to the Second Virginia Convention"


Youmay rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?
— Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"


I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
— Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have a Dream"


I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.
— Jane Austen, Persuasion


To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision.
— Maya Angelou, I Know why the Caged Bird Sings


Mostly though, they waited. For the mail. For the news. For the bells. For breakfast and lunch and dinner. For one day to be over and the next day to begin.
— Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor was Divine


Because sometimes that is the only way to remember what is in your bones. You must peel off your skin, and that of your mother, and her mother. Until there is nothing. No scar, no skin, no flesh.
— Amy Tan, Joy Luck Club

What else would you add to this list?  

Please share with us in the comments!  Let's keep the list going!



Click on the image above to purchase 30 Mentor Sentences for Literary and Rhetorical Devices with Writing Application!  Excellent for high school ELA!

Click on the image above to purchase 30 Mentor Sentences for Literary and Rhetorical Devices with Writing Application!  Excellent for high school ELA!