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John feels like he is in a cage because of his oppressive home life. His relationship with his parents is awful. John refers to his father as "The Bore." He thinks his dad is boring and that his job is boring. All he ever sees his dad do is work and drink. Mom isn't any better. Unlike John's dad, though, John's mom is the quintessential hovering parent. John can't do much of anything at home without his mom being right there. She is obsessive about keeping the house clean and in order. She has rules for everything and is always telling John what to eat, what not to eat, to keep clean, to not bug dad, etc. Add to that the fact that John's parents revere his older brother. John feels completely trapped in the cage of his home life. To free himself from that cage of rules, he breaks a lot of rules. He's constantly being mischievous. He drinks and smokes a lot, too, perhaps to numb his feelings.
Lorraine's home life isn't much better. Her mother is awful to her, not physically, but emotionally. Lorraine's mother is always telling Lorraine how clumsy and ugly she is. Yikes! How's that for parental encouragement? Additionally, Lorraine's mother is crazy paranoid about men and the intentions of men. She's constantly warning Lorraine to never be alone with a man. Because of this treatment, Lorraine has very low self-esteem and low self-confidence. She feels that people don't like her or that she could never be friends with many people because of the way that she looks. Lorraine's cage is an internal struggle with her opinion of herself.
Mr. Pignati's cage is loneliness and a bit of depression. He lives alone in a rundown house because his wife died. She was everything to him: friend, lover, confidante, listener, etc. Mr. Pignati is a shell of a man without his wife. He's still loving and generous, but he has nobody to share that part of himself with anymore. That's where John and Lorraine come in.
Mrs. Jensen's cage is a self created cage of anger and bitterness toward life. It's especially directed at men. Her husband/lover left her when she was pregnant with Lorraine, and Mrs. Jensen has never trusted men again. She's angry at having been left, she's angry at being a single mother, she's angry about her job, and she's angry about not making more money. Her secondary cage is her focus on money. Money, making money, and keeping money are all she thinks about. They take precedence over all other values, and prevent her from seeing outside of her financial cage. She can't see Lorraine's beauty and value as a person.
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