Study Guide

Orange Is the New Black Freedom and Confinement

By Piper Kerman

Freedom and Confinement

The state motto of New Hampshire is "Live Free or Die." (Yes, we know Piper is in prison in Connecticut. Stick with us.) In prison in Orange is the New Black, the motto seems to be "Live Free and you die." Or at least get sent to solitary confinement.

When people commit a crime, they go to prison. The major punishment of prison is the fact that most of your freedoms are taken away. You sleep where they tell you to, you eat when and where they tell you to—it's like a cruise except without any of the fun.

Perhaps it's our freedoms that make us human. Trapped in prison and stripped of freedom, Piper often feels like an animal.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. What freedoms does Piper miss most in prison? What would you have the most trouble adjusting to?
  2. What statistic regarding prisoners in America startled you the most? Why?
  3. Which is scarier: going to prison or getting released from prison?
  4. Piper is in minimum security. How do you think Piper's situation is different from people in other prisons? What freedoms is she granted that many prisoners are not?
  5. How is Danbury different from the prisons in which Piper finds herself in Oklahoma and Chicago?

Chew on This

Piper has to find little moments of freedom where she can, because when almost all your freedoms are taken away, the smallest choices feel like a big deal.

In a way, the confinement can be a comfort. Many of the women in prison don't have a home or job or way to get food outside of prison walls. For them, freedom is almost a punishment.