by Jonathan Franzen
Depression Quotes in Freedom
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
Time passed in a peculiar manner which the autobiographer, with her now rather abundant experience of murdered afternoons, is able to identify as depressive (at once interminable and sickeningly swift; chock-full second-to-second, devoid of content hour-by-hour), until finally, as the workday ended, groups of young laborers came in and began to pay too much attention to her muletas, and she had to leave. (2.2.835)
We like the term "murdered afternoons" here, showing both the listlessness and hopelessness of being depressed, and the image of one's time on Earth being stolen by some malicious foe. The difference between seconds and hours is also a keen insight.
It occurred to her to drive to Grand Rapids and buy some actual wine. It occurred to her to drive back to the house without buying anything at all. But then where would she be? A weariness set in as she stood and vacillated: a premonition that none of the possible impending outcomes would bring enough relief or pleasure to justify her current heart-racing wretchedness. She saw, in other words, what it meant to have become a deeply unhappy person. And yet the autobiographer now envies and pities the younger Patty standing there in the Fen City Co-op and innocently believing that she'd reached the bottom: that, one way or another, the crisis would be resolved in the next five days. (2.3.254)
Patty experiences a panic attack in the grocery store. Although its direct cause is a relatively insignificant matter – whether or not to purchase some beer – the two options set her on widely different paths, affecting her marriage, her mental health, and pretty much everything in her world. But, of course, it's only through her past decisions (and the decisions of others) that Patty has arrived at this unhappy place.
When Patty considered this question, all she could see was the great emptiness of her life, the emptiness of her nest, the pointlessness of her existence now that the kids had flown. (2.3.330)
Here, Patty unintentionally acknowledges the selfishness of her desire to have children. That is, she was never interested in raising children so that those kids can have their own great lives that are fulfilling to themselves and beneficial to others. If that were part of her motivation, then Patty would take great joy in having raised Joey and Jessica to be reasonably well-adjusted, successful individuals, rather than seeing it all as "pointless."