In a recent interview, Jonathan Franzen described family as "the one thing you can't change," much as we might like to (source). For a nuclear family of four, the Berglunds sure pack a whole lot of allegiances and alienation into a mere two decades. The parents play favorites with their children, the children expose and exploit weaknesses in their parents. More than one son in Freedom reacts to (OK, revolts against) his father's politics by embracing the exact opposite position, and more than one parent champions the child she considers most like herself. What does all this tell us about the modern family unit? One might wind up thinking it would be better to have no family at all, given how maladjusted these characters from broken homes are.