The Bald Soprano
The Bald Soprano Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used Donald M. Allen's translation.
Fire Chief: "I don't have the right to extinguish clergymen's fires. The Bishop would get angry. Besides they extinguish their fires themselves, or else they have them put out by vestal virgins." (328)
While it's not true that the Church put out its own fires back in the 1950s England, it is true that members of the clergy stood apart from the rest of society. Perhaps, this line from the Fire Chief is meant to satirize the Church's self-imposed separation. The idea that the Church might take this separation so far as to have their own fire department, seems to satirize in some ways the Church's aloof place in society.
Fire Chief: "He's [Mr. Durand] not English. He's only been naturalized. And naturalized citizens have the right to have houses, but not the right to have them put out if they're burning." (330)
A person who has been "naturalized" was once a foreigner, but has since become an official citizen of whatever country they've immigrated to. We highly doubt that naturalized citizens weren't serviced by the fire department in 1950s England. It's also pretty unlikely that they weren't allowed to put the fire out if their house caught aflame. However, just like with the statement about the Church in the previous quote, this exaggeration highlights the separateness that people originally from foreign countries might feel.
Fire Chief: "'The Head Cold.' My brother-in-law had, on the paternal side, a first cousin whose maternal uncle had a father-in-law whose paternal grandfather had married as his second wife a young native whose brother he had met on one of his travels, a girl of whom he was enamored and by who he had son who married an intrepid lady pharmacist who was none other than the niece of an unknown fourth-class petty officer in the Royal Navy and whose adopted father […]" (392)
At the end of this long story from the Fire Chief, we learn that all these people sometime catch colds in the winter. That's pretty much the point of the whole story. Or is it? We also discuss this quote in "Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd," but here we'd like to point out that you could see this long list of associations as showing how absurd divisions in society are. The Fire Chief mentions people in all walks of life during his story. In the end, we learn that ultimately they all get colds. Are we really that different?