Study Guide

Freedom Love

By Jonathan Franzen


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 to the point, why isn't love in real life more like it is in romantic comedies? Seriously, why have Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson and Matthew McConaughey ruined love for the rest of us? Why isn't it always easy, like it is in that Frank Sinatra song "Love and Marriage"? Why do we need terms like "bromance" and "rebound" and "friends with benefits"? Why can't we just love and be loved? Yeah, all that and more, explored in the pages of Freedom.

Questions About Love

  1. Do we believe Joey when he says he loves Connie, even when his actions seem to say otherwise? What changes between them after his trip to Paraguay?
  2. Patty compares her excessive love for Joey to "[loving] cookies and ice cream inordinately" (2.2.185)? What do you make of that? What food-related item does she love Jessica like?
  3. Compare Walter's love for Patty to his love for Lalitha. Don't they seem almost like totally different things? What's up with that? Try to attach some adjectives to each. What do you come up with?
  4. Agree or disagree: Walter loves nature. What about this one: Richard loves music. Don't they both sort of hate those things as well? Does anyone in the novel have something they love without reserve or complication?

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