Study Guide

The Corrections Madness

By Jonathan Franzen


Crazy is as crazy does, and the Lamberts sure do some crazy things. The Corrections focuses on two characters dealing with similar psychological issues at very different stages of their lives. Alfred is near the end of his rope, his struggle with his own mortality exposed through wild hallucinations.

His son Gary, on the other hand, should be in the prime of his life: He's married to a babe, he's raking in the cash, and the future is nothing but bright. So then why is he becoming paranoid? Why does he find himself crying at inopportune moments? And what in Odin's name is up with that turd talking to his father? Read on to explore the method to Franzen's madness with these two dudes.

Questions About Madness

  1. Why does it take Enid so long to admit that Alfred has mental problems?
  2. Is Gary just depressed or is something deeper going on? Explain your answer.
  3. Based on the evidence available, do you think that Correcktall actually works? Why or why not?
  4. What does Gary's obsession with brain chemistry say about his character?

Chew on This

As a whole, The Corrections argues that modern psychology presents little value to those suffering from mental illnesses.

The Corrections observes that the social stigma about mental illness prevents people like Gary and Alfred from getting help.