Study Guide

Freedom Friendship

By Jonathan Franzen


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, things get complicated when you've got a love triangle between a woman, her husband, and her husband's best friend. These are intense, intimate relationships. What about the acquaintances most of our lives are filled with too? (You know, like the 400 people you're friends with on Facebook.) Yeah, the people in Freedom aren't so good at those. What's that all about?

Questions About Friendship

  1. What do you make of the fact that Connie doesn't have any friends? How does this impact how you view her?
  2. We don't know much about Jessica's friendships. All we get is a passing comment, when she says, "I have friends who hardly even check their e-mail anymore" (3.4.70). We imagine she makes friends easily and is surrounded by casual acquaintances and intimate friends alike. How does this separate her from the rest of her family?
  3. The few times we meet Patty's friends at college, they actually seem pretty awesome. So then why does she still hang out with Eliza, with whom she not only has nothing in common, but who's unquestionably a bad influence on her?
  4. Joey and Patty only befriend people they know they'll feel superior to. What does this say about their motives in entering friendships?

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