Franzen wrote The Corrections during an interesting point in American history: before terrorism was a thing that we ever thought about, before the wealth disparity had grown out of control, and before an economic recession shook the American Dream to its core. These issues emerged not long after the book's publication, though, and they play a big part in the novel, where we can see how the confusing web of class conflicts and personal biases play a part in our lives.
So if you're ready to be schooled about class (oh yeah, you better believe that we're the punniest people on the planet) then read on, loyal Shmoopers.
Questions About Society and Class
What are the similarities and differences between Chip and Alfred's beliefs about class?
What are the roots of Enid's insecurity around the wealthy?
How has the nature of the upper-class changed between Enid and Alfred's youth and the present?
How has the rise of consumer society affected the America of the novel?
Chew on This
The Corrections argues that we're seeing a new class of nouveau riche, and as the upper class changes, so does the dominant values system.
Consumerism has been a drain on the lower and middle classes, according to The Corrections, because it incentivizes them to waste money on frivolities instead of things of value.