The Iceman Cometh

by: Eugene O'Neill

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

What's it matter if the truth is that their favoring breeze has the stink of nickel whiskey on its breath, and their sea is a growler of lager and ale, and their ships are long since looted and scuttled and sunk on the bottom? To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It's irrelevant and immaterial, as the lawyers say. The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.

Larry, the play's cynical "Foolsopher," makes this speech to Rocky in Act I, establishing the characters' state of being. All suffer from the pipe dream. Larry proclaims the pipe dream's necessity, saying that such illusions give life to the "misbegotten," be they drunk or sober. This speech poses him against Hickey, who understands Larry's sardonic pity as only serving to condemn man to the guilt his illusions inspire. It is also significant as it introduces the metaphor of the pipe dream as vessel, both the Ship of Fools as well as the schooner from which the dreamer drinks. This metaphor recurs throughout the play.