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by Jonathan Franzen

Friendship Quotes in Freedom

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

Quote #1

Things came, Patty complained, too easily to Joey. [...] He perfected a highly annoying smile of condescension when face with toys or games that other boys owned but Patty and Walter refused to buy him. To extinguish this smile, his friends insisted on sharing what they had [...] (1.1.25)

Let's think for a moment about the use of the word "friends" here. Both here and elsewhere, it rarely seems like Joey actually cares about his so-called friends. He has learned the movements of socializing, but never really connects with anyone outside his tiny circle (his birth family, the Berglunds, and his other family, the Monaghans). Joey always stands apart and can't really be said to have friends, per se, although he has plenty of people to hang out with.

Quote #2

Patty had always had friends plural, never anything intense. (2.2.87)

So, let's see. Patty barely speaks to her family (least of all her sisters) and she's never had any close friends. Then, the one close friend she does make turns out to have an unhealthy obsession with her. Oh, and then the first real boyfriend she has, she marries a few weeks after graduation? Is it a stretch to argue that this would leave her ill-equipped to enter into such an emotionally intense and unavoidably co-dependent relationship? No, we don't think so.

Quote #3

Eliza turned out not to like any of Patty's other friends and didn't even try to hang out with them. She referred to them collectively as "your lesbians" or "the lesbians" although half of them were straight. Patty very quickly came to feel that she lived in two mutually exclusive worlds. There was Total Jockworld, where she spent the vast majority of her time and where she would rather flunk a psychology midterm than skip going to the store and assembling a care package and taking it to a teammate who'd sprained an ankle or was laid up with the flu, and then there was dark little Elizaworld, where didn't have to bother trying to be so good. (2.2.76)

Is it surprising how well these two "worlds" complement each other? As unhealthy and deranged as Patty's friendship with Eliza turns out to be, at its most basic level it represents the deep emotional connection so important in our lives. Meanwhile, the basketball team stands in for the less intense, less demanding friendships in our lives, that are also important or nourishing, just in a different way. After all, here it's the less intense relationships, which we might usually assume to be "superficial," that she describes as more demanding, and that bring out the best in Patty. Super interesting.

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