by Jonathan Franzen
Loyalty Quotes in Freedom
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
She'd fallen for the one man in the world who cared as much about Walter and felt as protective of him as she did; anybody else could have tried to turn her against him. And even worse, in a way, was the responsibility she felt toward Richard, in knowing that he had nobody else like Walter in his life, and that his loyalty to Walter was, in his own estimation, one of the few things besides music that saved him as a human being. (2.3.476)
This has to be the most powerful statement about loyalty in the book – that a man with very few virtuous qualities can be defined (can be saved) by his loyalty to one. In other words, that he can be saved by his loyalty to loyalty.
But Walter was mostly disappointed and hurt by Richard's moment in the sun. He said he understood why Richard hardly ever called him anymore, he understood Richard had a lot on his plate now, but he didn't really understand it. [...] Walter wouldn't have minded getting a little more credit for having been so morally and intellectually and even financially supportive of Richard, but what really hurt him was how little he seemed to matter to Richard, compared to how much Richard mattered to him. And Patty of course couldn't offer him her best proof of how much he actually did matter to Richard. (2.3.621)
This is another example of the difference between Walter's and Richard's conceptions of loyalty. For Walter, Richard is disloyal for not including him in his rise to fame, especially after Walter was forced to participate (and even support Richard) during his decades of struggle. For Richard, things are not as Walter imagines them to be – they are, as ever, more ambiguous.
"'Fame requires every sort of excess' […] You should be out trashing hotel rooms and recording your most repellent fuck-you songs ever" (3.1.120, 124).
Walter argues that, now that Richard has gotten the music world's attention, he should go back and write all the anti-everything songs they talked about way back in college. To just drop out, and ignore the opportunity to shake the bars of his cage, would be disloyal to his (their!) punk rock roots.