by Jonathan Franzen
Freedom Theme of Betrayal
Betrayal is closely aligned with loyalty – or, rather, its evil twin, disloyalty. Freedom is deeply concerned with betrayal of principles. Walter compromises the purity of his beliefs in his dealings with coal companies. Richard considers his unintentional success a betrayal of his revulsion with the state of mainstream music. Even Joey's great betrayal of his parents (moving in with his girlfriend next-door) is presented more as a rejection of Walter and Patty's ideals and values than as a personal grievance against them.
Questions About Betrayal
- What character definitely deserves blame for his or her betrayal? Or should we say, is there anyone who you don't blame for his or her betrayal?
- What about Jessica? Can we consider any of her actions a betrayal? (Think, for example, of her aligning herself with Patty against Walter.)
- How does each character respond to his or her betrayal, and how does he or she then make amends?
- Can we really consider a son choosing different political beliefs than his father a betrayal? Or is that terminology too strong? Does he really have any responsibility to follow his father's path?
- What's the difference between betrayal and disloyalty?