Explaning who he is in real life from that quote?
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Jennings asks the Sister why they cage the animals at night. The Sister replies they have to because the animals are in their care. Jennings replies,
"But if somebody loved one them," I asked, "wouldn't it be a good idea to let them have one? To keep, I mean?"
Jennings himself is an orphan of parents who can't or won't take care of him. The animals thus become an extension of himself, unloved orphans who nobody wants.