Welcome to our first book discussion of Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen! We're covering assignment 1 from our reading schedule ("Good Neighbors"–"Chapter 2: Best Friends").
Typically, I would discuss the title of a book only after it's been read by everyone, but instead I'd like us to consider the meaning of "freedom" and how it evolves as we're reading this thought-provoking novel.
Personally, I'm fascinated with the character of Patty (although I struggled to like her), who's accused by one neighbor of living in "her own little dollhouse" (page 19; for all the e-readers, please search the text). She seems like perfection on the outside, free to create any life she wants...or is she?
The first time Patty feels "free," she's drunk at a high school swim party and is raped (page 35). The second time, "She sprinted down Eliza's street in sheer exhilaration at her freedom" and falls on black ice, badly damaging her knee (page 91). And feeling "almost free" (page 116) by the end of the section, Patty makes a decision that changes the trajectory of her life and leaves Richard to be with Walter.
Did Patty pick safety and security over passion? Was she free of her past, or did it influence her decision? Was Patty really ever free, or is freedom an illusion?
What do you think? Share your comments below!