Freedom is a recurring idea in Red Dragon. Dolarhyde fights for freedom his entire life. Born with a grotesque birth defect that is not corrected until adulthood, Dolarhyde must fight as a child for the freedom to express himself in words that are not swallowed whole by his cleft palate. Dolarhyde must also fight a senile and cruel grandmother for the freedom to be a child, to be allowed to make mistakes and to still be loved despite them. Later, Dolarhyde must fight to remain free from the illness that has warped his perceptions of the world around him, and his physical freedom from the incarceration he will face if ever caught.