Welcome to assignment 6 of our book discussion of Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen. We're covering "The Fiend of Washington," "Mistakes Were Made (Conclusion)" and "Canterbridge Estate Lakes" (pages 443 to the end) from our reading schedule.
We've finally come to the last section of the novel—which I call "Patty's rebound." After her marriage collapses and her affair with Richard fizzles, Patty is left to rebuild her life. And she does, in a way I found not only admirable but inspirational.
Meanwhile, Walter's relationship with Lalitha ends in a tragic car crash and he retreats to the lake house to grieve. But it's only when Patty arrives on his doorstep that Walter becomes the man he was always meant to be. He lets Patty inside the house and, most of all, inside his soul:
And so he stopped looking at her eyes and started looking into them, returning their look before it was too late, before this connection between life and what came after life was lost, and let her see all the vileness inside him, all the hatreds of two thousand solitary nights, while the two of them were still in touch with the void in which the sum of every thing they'd ever said or done, every pain they'd inflicted, every joy they’d shared, would weigh less than the smallest feather on the wind.
"It's me," she said. "Just me."
"I know," he said, and kissed her. (page 559)
I believe by finally letting Patty see him as he really is, Walter is set free. And for me, it is when we feel acceptance and unconditional love that we feel the most free.
So now that you're done reading, why do you think this novel is titled Freedom
? What does it take for you to feel truly free?
What do you think? Share your comments below!