Ooh! I forgot about this one. I'm still reading On the Road, don't worry but this one came to mind tonight after the day's events while wondering why I try so damn hard all the time and it's because I can't live knowing that I didn't. This part is so poignant; I love it in the movie and the book.
"And suddenly nobody's hooting at him any more. His arms commence to swell, and the veins squeeze up to the surface. He clinches his eyes, and his lips draw away from his teeth. His head leans back, and tendons stand out like coiled ropes running away from his heaving neck down both arms to his hands. His whole body shakes with the strain as he tries to lift something he knows he can't lift, something everybody knows he can't lift. But, for just a second, when we hear the cement grind at our feet, we think, by golly, he might do it. Then his breath explodes out of him, and he falls back limp against the wall. There's blood on the levers where he tore his hands. He pants for a minute against the wall with his eyes shut. There's no sound but his scraping breath; nobody's saying a thing. He opens his eyes and looks around at us. One by one he looks at the guys - even at me - then he fishes in his pockets for all the IOU's he won the last few days at poker. He bends over the table and tries to sort them, but his hands are froze into red claws, and he can't work the fingers. Finally he throws the whole bundle on the floor - probably forty or fifty dollars' worth from each man- and turns to walk out of the tub room. He stops at the door and looks back at everybody standing around.
"But I tried, though," he says. "Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn't I?"
And walks out and leaves those stained pieces of paper on the floor for whoever wants to sort through them." (p. 110)