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Cloud 9

Caryl Churchill


Important Quotations Explained

You should always respect and love me, Edward, not for myself, I may not deserve it, but as I respected and loved my own father, because he was my father. Through our father we love our Queen and our God.

This quote, from Clive in Act I, Scene three illustrates Clive's mindless acceptance of history and tradition. Clive does not see the absurdity of his argument that Edward's respect for him should not have anything to do with Clive's personal behavior. Clive also connects loyalty to family with loyalty to country, implying the parallel between colonial and sexual oppression. Clive's comment comes on the heels of Edward getting caught playing with Victoria's doll again.

Clive's statement to Edward tempers slightly the image of Clive as a ruthless, overbearing patriarch. Clive recognizes that he "may not deserve" Edward's respect, but he demands it nonetheless because his father demanded his respect. In many ways, Clive is an unknowing vessel of oppressive British values. Clive cannot separate love and duty. He believes that Edward should love him because of his role as father, thus absolving himself of any responsibility to be an understanding, compassionate parent.

We must resist this dark female lust, Betty, or it will swallow us up.

This quote, also in Act I, Scene three echoes Clive's earlier comment that he fears Africa "swallowing" him up. Clive connects the weakness of women with the perceived savageness of Africa. The notion that Betty's lust is "dark" implies an evil beyond the control of any woman. Clive insists that he and Betty must work together to resist the onslaught of evil forces. He does not even give Betty credit for her own choices, maintaining that Betty's identity is some combination of a female weakness and his ability to control that weakness.

Here, Clive also denies the truth of his family falling apart. By accepting Betty's infidelity as something that is beyond her control, he is able to deny that he has been betrayed. Clive attributes his family's indiscretions to larger forces in order to avoid the painful truth that he, as a father and husband, might have failed his family. He accepts no responsibility for Betty's wrongdoing. This quote is part of a larger lecture in which he hardly gives Betty an opportunity to speak. She only affirms his position that they have been victim to the inherent weaknesses of femininity.

God knows I do everything I can to make you stand on your own two feet. Just be yourself. You don't seem to realize how insulting it is to me that you can't get yourself together.

This statement, made by Martin to Victoria in Act II, Scene two, represents a more modern form of oppression. Martin's control of Victoria is less severe than Clive's influence in Africa. In fact, Martin's control manifests itself as a willingness to give up control. Martin says that he favors Victoria's independence. However, when she cannot "get herself together," Martin is "insulted" because he has been rendered powerless by his inability to help her.

Martin represents the uncertainties of the second act. As the act's only straight male, he wonders where he fits in and what his status should be relative to Victoria. He does not recognize that even the command "Just be yourself" is still a command and an exertion of his will upon Victoria. Victoria can only find her true identity through her own action. Martin struggles to find a way to be meaningful to his wife without controlling her. Much of Martin's speech, including this quote comes in the form of long lecture-like monologues that depict him as self-absorbed—caught up in the confusion of finding his own identity, but still demanding that Victoria find hers.

You can't separate fucking and economics.

Victoria utters these words in Act II, Scene three, summing up Churchill's argument that sex has strong connections to broader, historical trends. Victoria's comment is part of a description of a myth of a female-ruled society in which women controlled property and thus controlled the economy. Even so, her analysis fits well the story of the play. In Act I, Clive, as the breadwinner for the family, holds the highest sexual status. To separate oneself from Clive's "rules" of sexuality, one would have to be cut off from Clive's protection and his resources.

In Act II, Victoria experiences the connection between "fucking and economics" in her quandary over whether or not to take a job in Manchester. If she does so, it will surely change the nature of her sexual relationships, a consequence that she admits to in her discussions with Lin and Martin. By looking for jobs, Betty and Victoria demonstrate that sexual liberation is in part a byproduct of economic liberation. To find their sexual identities, the women must break free from a historically male-dominated economy.

But if there isn't a right way to do things you have to invent one.

With this quote, in Act II, Scene four, Betty indicates a new understanding of her place in the world. She acknowledges that present life is not always governed by tradition. Betty explains why Clive cannot be present in the second act. His devotion to tradition makes him incapable of "inventing" new ways to "do things." Betty asserts the right to establish new sexual relationships to suit one's needs and desires.

Betty speaks these words to Gerry, the character who, more than any other, represents freedom from sexual parameters. Gerry does as he wishes with whomever he chooses. Betty, though not as free from the past as Gerry, has "invented" a way to satisfy herself through masturbation. In this quote, Betty does not dismiss the lessons of the past, but merely accepts the fact that times change and that people, even those as old as Betty, must be flexible enough to change with them. Indeed, London of 1979 is so far from Victorian Africa that many new ways to "do things" must be "invented."

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