by Jonathan Franzen
Loyalty Quotes in Freedom
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"You have to take people the way they are," Dorothy told him. "Richard's a good friend, and you should be loyal to him." (Dorothy was big on loyalty – it lent meaning to her not so pleasant life – and Patty often heard Walter quoting her admonition; he seemed to attach almost scriptural significance to it.) He pointed out that Richard himself had been extremely disloyal in stealing a girl Walter cared about, but Dorothy, who herself perhaps had fallen under the Katzian spell, said she didn't believe that Richard had done it deliberately. (2.3.147)
Here we learn the roots of Walter's steadfast loyalty. If he really does attach "almost scriptural significance" to her words (that we should "take people the way they are"), then we should be able to apply their example to all of his relationships.
She [Patty] didn't see how he [Joey] could possibly be loyal and devoted to the neighbor girl [Connie]. She thought that Connie Monaghan, sneaky little competitor that she was, had managed to get some kind of filthy little momentary hold on him. She was disastrously slow to grasp the seriousness of the Monaghan menace, and in the months when she was underestimating Joey's feelings for the girl – when she thought that she could simply freeze Connie out and make lighthearted fun of her trashy mom and her mom's boneheaded boyfriend, and that Joey would soon enough be laughing at them, too – she managed to undo fifteen years of effort to be a good mom. (2.3.202)
Patty doesn't italicize many words, so when she does, these words sort of jump out at us. One thing we know – that she has no clue about – is that Joey isn't really loyal or devoted to Connie. But the way she expresses her surprise almost suggests that she can't understand how anyone can be loyal and devoted, because she herself sure struggles with it. In fact, the only person she might be loyal to is Joey, and if he doesn't return her loyalty, how can he possible return Connie's?
"Not sure exactly what the point of that is."
"Just that I'm still committed to my family."
"Good. It's a great family."
"Right, so I'll see you in the morning."
"Patty." He put out his cigarette in the commemorative Danish Christmas bowl of Dorothy's that he was using as an ashtray. "I'm not going to be the person who wrecks my best friend's marriage."
"No! God! Of course not!" She was nearly weeping with disappointment. (2.3.363)
All things considered, Richard is pretty loyal to Walter. He tries – he really tries! – to be a good friend. When he finally betrays him, it's through his convoluted logic that it's for Walter's own good.