by Jonathan Franzen
Depression Quotes in Freedom
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"I have some acquaintance with depression myself, and, believe me, I know it's no picnic. Is Connie taking something for it?"
"Well, I hope that works out for her. My own drug didn't work out so well for me."
"You have to give those drugs some time," he said.
"Right, so everybody said. Especially Dad, who's kind of on the front lines with me. He was very sorry to see those good times go. But I was glad to have my head back, such as it is." (3.5.112-114; 120-122)
Let's focus on the larger theme of Walter and Patty's relationship here: that Walter knows what's best for Patty better than she does. In this case, it's pretty clearly selfish on his part, being less interested in relieving her depression than he is in removing it from his daily life.
Ubiquitous though depression seemed lately to have become, Joey still found it a little worrisome that the two females who loved him the most were both suffering clinically. Was it just chance? Or did he have some actively baneful effect on women's mental health? In Connie's case, the truth was that her depression was a facet of the same intensity he'd always so much loved in her. On his last night in St. Paul, before returning to Virginia, he sat and watched her probe her skull with her fingertips, as if she were hoping to extract excess feeling from her brain. She said that the reason she'd been weeping at seemingly random moments was that even the smallest bad thoughts were excruciating, and that only bad thoughts, no good ones, were occurring to her. (3.5.127)
It's certainly a valid question. We'd argue that although Joey undoubtedly has a "baneful effect" (in other words, bad) on the women around him, he can't be blamed for causing their depression. That said, the second half of this passage is really heartbreaking, and Joey is at fault for not doing more to help this young woman he supposedly loves.
He threw himself onto the bed and sobbed in a state to which all previous states of existence seemed infinitely preferable. The world was moving ahead, the world was full of winners [...] while Walter was left behind with the dead and dying and forgotten, the endangered species of the world, the nonadaptive... (3.6.324)
This is Walter's first real taste of depression, although it does seem markedly different from any of the other examples in the book. Can you identify what sets it apart?