by Jonathan Franzen
Freedom Book 3, Chapter 4 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- It's been one week since Katz gave the interview to the high school kid. The kid posted it on his blog and now Katz has been getting interview requests from everywhere.
- He goes back to the kid's house to meet the pretty girl the kid wants to impress – you know, the one Katz had planned on sleeping with to teach the kid a lesson. (That's your idea of a "lesson," Katz?)
- The girl shows up with two friends. He's polite, but Katz can't bring himself to put forth the effort to flirt with her. In fact, he takes pleasure in ignoring the pretty girl and giving attention to her less-pretty friends.
- Katz takes a train to Washington. He's supposedly going so he can meet with Walter and Lalitha and Jessica about the Trust. But really he's going so he can sleep with Patty and destroy their family.
- He arrives at the mansion that serves as the Berglunds' house, Lalitha's apartment, and the Cerulean Warbler Trust headquarters.
- Jessica answers the door, and immediately excuses herself to go continue an argument with Lalitha. It's immediately clear that the women don't like each other – or, more specifically, that Jessica hates Lalitha.
- Jessica comes back and sits down with Katz, and vents a little bit.
- She says her mother is still really depressed, and doesn't do anything around the house anymore. She says Joey is a Republican now. She thinks Lalitha is in love with Walter and will destroy her parents' marriage. Oh, and she also hates living in New York.
- The next morning, Katz walks downstairs and everyone else is already there for the meeting. Walter looks nervous. Jessica and Lalitha bicker. Katz chews tobacco.
- They brainstorm ways to make overpopulation an issue that young people want to devote their energy towards solving. How to discourage people from having so many babies?
- In particular, they focus on the fact that freedom to reproduce is a fundamental personal freedom, and American is totally obsessed with personal freedom.
- Patty comes down in the middle of the meeting. She's dressed up. And then, having "speedily irritated, ignored, or disappointed each of the four of them," she walks out the door (3.4.311).
- The group agrees on the name "Free Space" for their movement. Maybe with an extra space, like this: "Free Space."
- They also decide to have a series of local "battle of the bands" competitions around the country, culminating in one big event in West Virginia. Katz agrees to do everything he's asked to do.
- That night, he and Walter go out to dinner, and then to a concert, to see the young indie rock band Bright Eyes. Katz is disgusted by the scene: the band's obvious talent, the enthusiastic crowd, everything. Bah.
- He tells Walter he's thinking about writing some new songs.
- They get home and Walter goes to bed. Katz creeps outside Patty's door and calls her name. No response. He stays awake for a few hours, then at 2am walks into her room. She's sitting on a sofa, just staring into the dark. She suggests they go downstairs.
- Patty makes tea. She complains about things she hates about young people, like flip-flops and credit cards.
- Then they talk about the serious stuff: about their relationship, and her relationship with Walter, and his relationship with Walter. And the past. Which of course is totally messy and miserable.
- Katz tells her he came down here for her, and asks her to come away with him. She calls him a liar.
- Patty says that watching Walter fall for Lalitha has been "quite extraordinarily painful [...] quite devastatingly painful" (3.4.354).
- Patty says she senses that Walter's preparing to leave her.
- Katz encourages her to be "a good wife" (3.4.357) and make Walter hers again.
- Patty scoffs and says goodnight.
- When Katz goes upstairs, he finds Patty's manuscript "Mistakes Were Made" on his pillow.
- He stays up all night reading it, and then, at dawn, leaves it on Walter's desk for him to find in the morning.
- Then he leaves and thinks he'll never see the Berglunds again.
- He walks over a bridge and thinks about jumping off and killing himself. But doesn't.
- Finally, he gets back to Jersey City. He cleans his apartment and calls his old drummer on the phone. He takes a sedative and sleeps heavily.
- The next morning he goes shopping for some groceries, plays guitar for a few hours and then goes out for lunch. When he gets back, food bag in hand, he finds none other than Patty sitting on his front steps, with a suitcase and a pile of clothes.
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