by Jonathan Franzen
Freedom and Confinement Quotes in Freedom
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
America, for Einar, was the land of unSwedish freedom, the place of wide-open spaces where a son could still imagine he was special. But nothing disturbs the feeling of specialness like the presence of other human beings feeling identically special. Having achieved, through his native intelligence and hard labor, a degree of affluence and independence, but not nearly enough of either, he became a study in anger and disappointment. [...] (The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage.) (3.6.4)
This passage, referring to Walter's immigrant grandfather, practically begs to be interpreted as a metaphor for the United States as a whole. It brings up questions of whether American is so exceptional anymore, especially in this age of declining economic might, and as it becomes more and more of a nation that's deeply polarized politically, culturally, economically…pretty much everything-ically.
Hearing that [Patty had] gone back to Richard ought to have liberated him, ought to have freed him to enjoy Lalitha with the cleanest of consciences. But it didn't feel like a liberation, it felt like a death. (3.6.324)
Walter never actually asked for total freedom. In fact, he remains devoted to Patty even as she seemed more and more determined to make his life miserable. Certainly he should be relieved (even if only momentarily) to leave behind a painful relationship for one full of passion and hope, so why in the world would it feel like a death? Does it have something to do with his philosophical connection between personal freedom and environmental destruction?