by Jonathan Franzen
Sex Quotes in Freedom
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"I know essentially nothing about sex," Walter confessed.
"Oh, well," she said, "it's not very complicated." (2.3.105-106)
Oh, the irony. Since sex will become very complicated indeed, for Patty in particular. Not only between each other (although their sex life will be a continual source of tension between her and Walter), but of course with their extramarital temptations as well.
One hesitates to ascribe too much explanatory significance to sex, and yet the autobiographer would be derelict in her duties if she didn't devote an uncomfortable paragraph to it. The regrettable truth is that Patty had soon come to find sex sort of boring and pointless – the same old sameness – and to do it mostly for Walter's sake. And, yes, undoubtedly, to not do it very well. There just usually seemed to be something else she'd rather have been doing. (2.3.155)
Patty's disinterest in Walter sexually is, in one way, symptomatic of their larger problems. But she can't act as if it comes as a surprise, since from the very beginning she admits that she's not attracted to him.
This was very unusual of her, but thankfully not so unheard-of as to provoke comment and examination; and Walter needed no persuading to oblige her. It wasn't a big deal, just a little late-evening surprise, and yet in autobiographical retrospect it now looks almost like the high point of their marriage. Or maybe, more accurately, the endpoint; the last time she remembers feeling safe and secure in being married [...] their marriage was working. (2.3.177)
Wow, for an autobiographer who "hesitates to ascribe too much explanatory significance to sex" (2.3.155), this passage ascribes some seriously weighty significance to sex. Come on, "the high point of their marriage"? That's a pretty big statement. And pretty disturbing, in a way, since it's precipitated almost entirely by her latent desire for her hubby's pal Richard.