Rekindling Relationships

For a book with a strange structure to it, Franzen did a reasonably good job at tying it together into some sort of resolution at the end of Freedom. After seeing the book divided between Patty’s autobiographical writings, chapters focused on Joey, and chapters focused on Walter, etc., it was interesting to see what Franzen would focus on. The end of the book represents some sort of culmination point not just for the characters individually, but also for their relationships.

After seeing the tense, complicated relationships between Katz, Walter, and Patty play out for the course of the book, it feels satisfying to see a resolution reached between all three of them. How this resolution is reached in the last chapter is a bit strange. Patty hanging outside the house in the cold hoping for Walter to let her in even though he ignores her is bizarre, although not out of place in the book. On the other hand, Katz’s “Songs for Walter” CD is a little too easy; it practically settles their relationship on its own as Walter is clearly moved by the gesture.

All in all, however, it is interesting to see Walter adjusting to life post-Lalitha and post-Cerulean Warbler as he puts aside those distractions in favor of rekindling relationships, and it’s definitely good to close the book by seeing what would come of Walter after the reader saw him reach his boiling point in West Virginia earlier. After finishing the book, it’s hard not to reflect further on its title, and furthermore what freedom means to each character or rather how they exercised or limited their freedom in some greater sense.

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