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Little Words, Big Ideas
Freedom and Confinement
What, you're surprised? It's right there in the title, just that one word: Freedom. Big letters! Freedom! Franzen has acknowledged that the book is, at least in part, an exploration of the ways in...
Visions of America
We can approach this theme on a small scale (microscopic) and on a large scale (telescopic). In Freedom, Franzen certainly tries to craft characters that are representative of what it's like to liv...
In a recent interview, Jonathan Franzen described family as "the one thing you can't change," much as we might like to (source). For a nuclear family of four, the Berglunds sure pack a whole lot of...
Pretty much every character in Freedom struggles, at one point or another (or the whole time), with depression. Walter and Joey, for example, sink deeply into depression out of grief and guilt, res...
What is love? As in, what is it besides being the subject of 95% of the songs you hear on the radio…and almost all of Shakespeare's sonnets…and the biggest cash cow for Hallmark? Actually, more...
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...
There's a surprising amount of talk about loyalty in Freedom. Most of this talk centers on being loyal to loved ones, and puts loyalty on a pedestal as one of the highest virtues. Walter's mother D...
This might seem like a gimme. Of course, there are friends in the novel; friendship exists. But Freedom explores the nature of friendship to an extent that few novels are willing. Needless to say,...
Lies and Deceit
We've got a few equations to suggest here. See what you think about these:Loyalty + Lies and Deceit = BetrayalLove + Lies and Deceit = DepressionFreedom + Betrayal = Lies and DeceitSo, what do you...
Betrayal is closely aligned with loyalty – or, rather, its evil twin, disloyalty. Freedom is deeply concerned with betrayal of principles. Walter compromises the purity of his beliefs in his deal...
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