But Louis understands how costly that kind of freedom can be. Although it will not stop him from leaving Prior, his decision is truly agonizing, and he has a sense, still unformed but real, of the personal and social costs he will endure for his choice. Thus to Louis, freedom is as "heartless" as he himself is; it means the chance "to do whatever," to be "greedy and loveless and blind." His use of the plural and his reference to Americans as Reagan's children links this negative vision of "free" to political freedom just as he earlier connected it with the positive vision.

Thus in this one scene the play offers a complicated understanding of freedom: it is thrilling, adventurous, vital, but also terrifying and lonely, and it has unimaginable costs. Despite these costs, though, both men will pursue their freedom—as they must, for the rejection of freedom leads to stasis and death. Just as Louis's ancestors pursued personal freedom over a dangerous ocean, or Joe's endured a harsh trek westward to find freedom of belief, so must their descendants continue to seek out freedom—forward motion—despite the painful, even immoral choices it requires.

Sister Ella Chapter, more than any of the other human characters, rejects this idea of freedom. For her, freedom—as symbolized by travel—leads inevitably to evil. She would prefer that her friend Hannah remain in Salt Lake City, where she thinks she will be safe from danger. But the experience of the Mormon characters shows that mere lack of movement cannot save people. Joe and Harper were just as unhappy in Utah as they are in New York; the only difference is that, there, a conformist society prevented them from finding a better way, requiring them to seem cheerful, uncomplicated, and strong. Salt Lake was not enough to give Hannah a satisfying marriage or make Joe's father love him. In Scene Four, Joe tells Roy that Mormons come from dysfunctional families even though they are not supposed to—stasis is no cure for dysfunction.