“I think I can afford having and keeping my own opinions” (Scene 1, p. 14)
George Garga is the clerk at the Lending Library and refuses to sell his opinion to Shlink for any price. He is fired but does not back down.
“Your family is heading straight for a crack-up: you’re the only one who’s earning any money, and yet you think you can afford to have opinions” (Scene 1, p. 17).
Shlink says this to Garga trying to frighten and blackmail him into complying with his demand. It is the familiar social blackmail held over people’s heads.
“Books! What’s the use of them? Did libraries stop the San Francisco earthquake?” (Scene 1, p. 18).
The Worm argues with Garga in the library, trying to intimidate him. He is a gangster and represents a materialistic point of view, and yet it is a common argument against the power of the word. Were books able to stop the Nazis and the world wars?
“Everybody seems to know what it’s all about, only I don’t” (Scene 1, p. 20).
Garga finds himself in the middle of a fight with Shlink’s gang without understanding it. Throughout the play, characters claim they do not know what is going on or why. It is a statement of existential angst or anxiety.
“I said to myself: that one, he’s a good fighting man” (Scene 2, p. 24).
Shlink admits to Garga he likes him to fight back. Marie notices Shlink is depressed when he does not have anyone to fight with.
“. . . a man doesn’t get finished off at once, ever—they want to have at least a hundred goes at him! Everybody’s got far too many chances” (Scene 9, p.71).
People seem to have nine lives, like cats, The Worm says, and it’s too bad, because life is one long attack and process of dying.
“I feel as if I had been sawed to pieces . . . Oh, when I float away it is in two parts, each going its own way . . .” (Scene 4, p. 45). 10. “. . .
Marie is in the Chinese Hotel with Shlink who will not respond to her love. She feels fragmented. Marie constantly goes this way, then that, trying to find happiness.
“You only realize the worth of your affections when their objects lie in the morgue” (Scene 5, p 51).
When Garga accuses Shlink of appropriating the love and attention of his family members, Shlink points out that Garga did not value them until his connection with them was already dead.
“you’ve become a victim to the black addiction of this planet: you want to touch others” (Scene 10, p. 81).
As Shlink is dying, Garga explains to him that he hates and fights in an attempt to touch another human being, although it is impossible, because human loneliness cannot be relieved.
“Look all over the world, you’ll find ten evil men and not a single evil deed. Men are destroyed by almost irrelevant causes” (Scene 7, p. 65).
Garga announces the arbitrary nature of life and its meaninglessness as he voluntarily goes to jail, an act that destroys the family.