The Skin of Our Teeth

play by Thornton Wilder

The Skin of Our Teeth (1942) is a play by Thornton Wilder, originally starring Tallulah Bankhead and Fredric March.

I've never forgotten for long at a time that living is struggle.

Act OneEdit

  • In the midst of life we are in the midst of death.
    • Inscribed on the wall
  • ...We're all human; who isn't?
    • Sabina
  • And my advice to you is not to inquire into why or whither, but to enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate; that's my philosophy.
    • Sabina
  • Children are a thing that only a parent can stand, and a truer word was never said.
    • Sabina
  • I can't invent any words for this play, and I'm glad I can't. I hate this play and every word in it.
    • Sabina
  • You've let the fire go out.
    • Mrs. Antrobus
  • Mrs. Antrobus: Have you milked the mammoth?
    Sabina: I don't understand a word of this play -- Yes, I've milked the mammoth.
  • Reading and writing and counting on your fingers is all very well in their way- but I keep the home going.
    • Mrs. Antrobus
  • There's that dinosaur on the front lawn again.
    • Mrs. Antrobus
  • Yes, any booby can fool with it now, but I thought of it first!
    • Mr. Antrobus, on the wheel.
  • Ladies and gentlemen! Don't take this play serious. The world's not coming to an end. You know it's not. People exaggerate! Most people really have enough to eat and a roof over their heads. Nobody actually starves--you can always eat grass or something. ... Savages don't love their families--not like we do.
    • Sabina
  • The Ten Commandments. Faugh!!--That's the worst line I've ever had to say on any stage.
    • Sabina
  • Booby, pass the sandwiches.
    • Mr. Antrobus, to Sabina
  • Two weeks, that's the law.
    • Sabina, about her notice.
  • Mrs. Antrobus, I'm taking back my notice. Mrs. Antrobus, I wouldn't want to leave a house that receives such interesting telegrams!
    • Sabina, after hearing the singing telegram from Mr. Antrobus.
  • Gladys Antrobus, what's that red stuff on your face?! You're a detestable child! Get away from me, both of you! I never want to see sight nor sound of you!
    • Mrs. Antrobus, to the children

Act TwoEdit

  • The dinosaur is extinct; the ice has retreated; and the common cold is being pursued by every means within our power.
    • Mr. Antrobus
  • I give you the watchword for the future: Enjoy Yourselves.
    • Mr. Antrobus
  • Who can tell your past,--eh? Nobody!
    • Fortune Teller
  • One of those black disks means bad weather; two means storm; three means hurricane; and four means the end of the world.
    • Mr. Antrobus, regarding the storm signal
  • Just a moment. I have something I wish to say to the audience.--Ladies and gentlemen. I'm not going to play this particular scene tonight. It's just a short scene and we're going to skip it.
    • Sabina
  • I have a letter...and in the letter is written all the things that a woman knows. It's never been told to any man and it's never been told to any woman, and if it finds its destination, a new time will come. We're not what books and plays say we are. We're not what advertisements say we are. We're not in the movies and we're not on the radio.
    • Mrs. Antrobus

Act ThreeEdit

  • And I'm sorry to say we'll need a short rehearsal, just a short run-through. And as some of it takes place in the auditorium, we'll have to keep the curtain up.
    • Mr. Antrobus, out of character, explaining after substituting last-minute volunteers for actors
  • God forgive me but I enjoyed the war. Everybody's at their best in wartime.
    • Sabina
  • I don't know how to say it, but the enemy is Henry; Henry is the enemy.
    • Sabina
  • How can you make a world for people to live in, unless you've first put in order yourself?
    • Mr. Antrobus
  • It's not wholly his fault that he wants to strangle me in this scene. It's my fault, too.
    • Mr. Antrobus
  • I've never forgotten for long at a time that living is struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for — whether it's a field, or a home, or a country.
    • Antrobus
  • ...I didn't make this war. I didn't ask for it. And, in my opinion, after everybody's gone through what they've gone through, they have a right to grab what they can find. You're a very nice man, Mr. Antrobus, but you'd have got on better in the world if you'd realized that dog-eat-dog was the rule in the beginning and always will be.
    • Sabina
  • [To the audience] This is where you came in. We have to go on for ages and ages yet. You go home. The end of this play isn't written yet.
    • Sabina