| Quote #7
He became another data point in the American experiment of self-government, an experiment statistically skewed from the outset, because it wasn't the people with sociable genes who fled the crowded Old World for the new continent; it was the people who didn't get along well with others. (3.6.2)
Whoa, ouch. Does that sound like you and the people you know? Or your parents, or your grandparents? Does that explain American racial strife and partisan gridlock? And, if this is true (that America is founded on "self-government"), why in the world would the States have United in the first place? Maybe we should just have 300 million little miniature states. ("We hereby claim this land for New Shmoopington!")
| Quote #8
After his retirement, in the 1950s, he began sending his relatives annual Christmas letters in which he lambasted the stupidity of America's government, the inequities of its political economy, and the fatuity of its religion [...] Though an entrepreneur himself, Einar detested big business. Though he'd made a career of government contracts, he hated the government as well. And though he loved the open road, the road made him miserable and crazy. (3.6.4)
Franzen seems to be poking fun (well, OK, really it isn't much "fun" – just "poking" maybe) at the double standards many of us hold in our political views. For example, everyone hates taxes, but we sure do like many of the things they pay for (roads, schools, the fire department).