Welcome to Assignment 2 of our book discussion of Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen. We're covering "Chapter 3: Free Markets Foster Competition" (pages 118–187) from our reading schedule. Thank you all for your fine comments so far, and I'm glad so many of you feel "free" to share what you really think about this book! If you're posting a comment regarding plot points that are ahead of the reading schedule, please add a "Spoiler Alert" line in your message to give the rest of our readers fair warning.
This week, we finally get properly introduced to the object of both Patty's and Walter's (and my) affection, Richard. He's a musician who's true to his art—and as they say about rock stars, men want to be them, women want to...well, you know the rest. This adage is no less true for the three main characters whose complicated entanglement of jealously, fear, lust and love that started in college continues to control their adult lives.
Patty left Richard in Chicago before they became physical, unable to act on her attraction to him. Are our biggest regrets in life not the things we did in our youth, but what we didn't do? And, how much do our past decisions still rule our lives today? After reading this section, I have to wonder what unfinished business is still out there for me—and that's a sobering thought. The Class of 1920 admonishes the young to "Use Well Thy Freedom" (page 184), but did I? Did you?
Sleepwalking or not, was it inevitable that Patty ended up in Richard's bed? Was it an itch that had to be scratched, or is their encounter about something truly deeper? And what about "poor Walter"? Was he too tolerant of Patty's destructive behavior? How do you think War and Peace
relates to this novel?
What do you think? Share your comments below!