There's no getting around it; sex is seriously important in Freedom (and important to any discussion of the book too). Relationships are founded upon sex; relationships dissolve because of sex. At least one character is defined by his sex addiction; another character we hardly know aside from her sexual activity. Franzen recognizes the incredible power and weight that sex and sexuality have, and have always had, in human life. He doesn't shy away from the uglier sides of sexuality, either, from obsession and abuse to rape and adultery. More importantly, though, he explores what sex means now in the 21st century.