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by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom and Confinement Quotes in Freedom

How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

"Walter thinks the liberal state can self-correct," Richard said. "He thinks the American bourgeoisie will voluntarily accept increasing restrictions on its personal freedoms." (2.2.649)

This is Walter in college. What do the next twenty years do to this philosophy? Does he still think this is true in 2004? And what has changed? Him or the world?

Quote #2

"But maybe especially the banality of the lyrics. 'Gotta be so free, so free, yeah, yeah, yeah. Can't live without my freedom, yeah, yeah.' That's pretty much every song." (2.3.172)

This doesn't sound so bad, does it? (That is, as a worldview; we're not questioning the quality of the lyrics or Dave Matthews as a musician.) Is Walter bitter because he himself isn't free, and resents the younger generation's optimism about all this? Or is there something deeper going on here?

Quote #3

There was the house and garden she'd neglected in her year of drunkenness and depression. There was her cherished freedom to go up to Nameless Lake for weeks at a time whenever she felt like it. There was a more general freedom that she could see was killing her but she was nonetheless unable to let go of.

This passage reminds us of standing in the cereal aisle at the supermarket. There are like a hundred choices. So many choices, it's almost impossible to make a decision, or to even know where to start. But think about this: what if someone said, "No sugar cereal"? Or, at least, "I don't like marshmallows"? Wouldn't that make it that much easier to pick something and get on with your life, instead of falling on the floor and curling up into the fetal position?

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