Study Guide

The Corrections Mortality

By Jonathan Franzen


The Corrections is a harrowing look at the slow decay of Alfred, the patriarch of the Lambert family. Alfred's health has been deteriorating from some time, but nobody (himself included) wants to admit to the fact that he's not well. Sometimes Alfred might wish he were dead, but when his back is up against the wall, he ends up clinging to life as tightly as any of us would. Ultimately, the novel reveals itself to be an investigation of the fear of death, and all of the baggage that comes along with it.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How does Gary's fear of death affect his actions throughout the novel?
  2. Does Alfred want to die? Why or why not?
  3. How does Alfred's long and slow decay impact the rest of the Lamberts?
  4. What does Alfred's death—and the way he dies—say about him as a character?

Chew on This

The Corrections argues that the fear of death is the secret driver behind most of our actions.

Despite all of his claims to the opposite, Alfred does not want to die—in fact, he clings to his life with desperation.