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Imitation of Life (1934) Poster

Quotes

Delilah Johnson: What's my baby want?

Peola Johnson, Age 19: I want to be white, like I look.

Delilah Johnson: Peola!

Peola Johnson, Age 19: [gesturing to mirror] Look at me. Am I not white? Isn't that a white girl?

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Delilah Johnson: [to Peola] Bow your head! You got to learn to take it!

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Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: Don't you want your own house?

Delilah Johnson: No. How am I to take care of you and Miss Jessie if I aint here?

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Jessie Pullman, Age 18: After all, what's the good of algebra and all that stuff to a girl?

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Baby Jessie Pullman, Age 3: I want my quack-quack!

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Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: I've got Jessie... and you've got Peola.

Delilah Johnson: Yes'm. I've got Peola, Miss Bea. What am I gonna' do about that poor child? She's so unhappy.

Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: You know, Delilah, I've been wondering, if it might be better if you could send Peola to one of those good colleges in the South - for colored people. Where she could finish her education, and where she wouldn't be faced with the problem of "white" all the time. You know what a disaster her schooling has been here.

Delilah Johnson: Yes'm...

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Delilah Johnson: Peola won't you be a good child like you can be, darling, and do something for your mammy?

Peola Johnson, Age 19: [annoyed] Oh, don't say "mammy."

Delilah Johnson: Look here, baby. You go down South, to one of them high-toned colleges, where only the high-toned goes. Wouldn't you do that for me, honey?

Peola Johnson, Age 19: [taken aback] A Negro school?

Delilah Johnson: Ain't nothin' to be ashamed of, daughter dear. Meet your cross half-way. It won't be near so heavy. Go amongst your own. Quit battlin'! Your little head's sore now from buttin' against stone walls. Open up and say, "Lord, I bows my head." HE made you black, honey. Don't be tellin' Him His business. Accept it, honey. Do that for your mammy, your mother, dear.

[Peola starts to sob, Delilah hugs her close and starts to sing a spiritual song]

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Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: I've got Jessie - that's enough. Delilah, honestly now, doesn't she look like an angel?

Delilah Johnson: Why, she *am* an angel, Miss Bea!

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Elmer Smith: [dourly, to Stephen] You'd make a great undertaker.

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Peola Johnson, Age 19: [sobbing, at Delilah's funeral] She worked for me, slaved for me. Always thought of me first. Never of herself.

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Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: Oh Delilah, you're hopeless.

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Elmer Smith: Once a pancake, always a pancake.

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See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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