Jonathan Franzen the Discomfort Zone Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:56
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Category: Kafka

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A personal History analysts of one mans identity by V Jonathan Franzens The Discomfort Zone is essentially a collection of Franzens essays published in The New Yorker that deal with problems, life time experiences, both social and emotional aspect of the authors life. This essay will focus mainly on Franzens effectual attempt to create a self portrait and at the same time make it legible and comprehensive in a way that anyone could cope with the problems and experiences he had during his maturation.

The book contains six essays : House for Sale, Two Ponies, Then Joy Breaks Through, Centrally Located, The Foreing Language and My Bird Problem which are written in an autobiographical, chronological way that enables the reader to follow his life from childhood, adolescence to his maturation. In the firts section of the book, entitled House for Sale, Jonathan returns to his family home in St. Louis after his mothers death, in attempt to sell the house wher he spent most of his life.

Here is where Franzen shows his witty and humorous mind, regardless of how serious and grevious the situtaion is : ??I went through the house and stripped the family photos out of every room. Id been looking forward to do this almost as much as to my drink. My mother had been too attached to the formality of her living room and dining room to clutter them with snaphots, but elsewhere each wndowsill and each table-top was an eddy in which inexpensively framed photos had accumulated. (4) He compares his mothers house to a novel which she continuously reorganized and rearranged throughout the years.

When talking about his mothers lifetime struggle to keep everything inside and outside the house in order, he feels the melancholy nd dissatisfaction with the way things ended. On one hand he wanted the house to be sold and even disliked it , but on the other, as he says : ? Id outgrown the novel Id once been so happy to live in, and how little I even cared about the final sale price. (25) Franzen also managed to fit some of his political an social ideas and opinions in this section.

He talks about the social situation in America during his childhood which was shaped by the idea that the middle working class would always feel the debt to its society. He revises both liberal and conservative political concept of the time eing and puts himself in the ?middle: heavy, skinlike, pulp smelling masses that reglued themselves to my fathers work boots, there was nothing but my family and house and church and school and work. (15) In Two Ponies we follow the life of Jonathan as a 10 year old boy and his reflections on both family life and current social situations around him.

The opening part of this section actually provides a hint about the relationships inside the Franzen family. He was growing up alongside his two brothers, Tom and Bob, whom he appreciated and respected infinitely. According to Jonathan, Tom is a true representative of the social epidemic of that era, a rebellious adolescent who ran away from home in a search for his own identity: ? Late adolescents in suburbs like ours had suddenly gone berserk, running away to other cities to have sex and not ot go to college, ingesting every substance they could get..

For a while, the parents were so frightened¦ and so ashamed that each family, especilly mine, quarantined itself and suffered by itself¦ Toms bed, neatly made, was the bed of a kid carried off by the epidemic. (32) In spite of being a child, Jonathan is able to provide comfort to his mother in times she felt sadness and shame because of Toms leaving. He is therefore unconciously building up his emotional strength and at the same time bonding with his mother like never before. The insatiable obsession with Charles M.

Schulzs ?Peanut Treasury is peculiar at times. As he lives a life of an extremely excellent student, he almost always and at all occasions compares his neighborhood, school, friends, family with the ?Peanuts. In his fantasy and in his dreams he became a part of that comic strip. In The Washington Post review Birds on the Brain A novelist exposes his life as a nerd, Bob Ivry wrote : ?ln that unsettled season, Franzen sought solace in a private, intense relationship with Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang.

The grownup Franzen can see why his pre-teen mint-me would identify so obsessively, and the reason is no less heartbreaking for its ordinariness: Nobody grows up, or apart, in a comic strip. Charlie Brown represents an on going inspiration for Franzen. The world as he knew it was shaped by the ideas from the very character. Many of his school activities esemble a lot to the stories in ?Peanut Treasury, such as the spelling bee, where he actually found out he was very much competitive and enjoyed exposing his great knowledge and his ?geek spirit to others. ??Our brains are like cartoonists and cartoons are like our brains, simplifying and exaggerating, subordinating facial detail to abstract comic concepts. (40) Jonathan loves comic books and cartoons just as much as any other child his age, but unlike others, in search of another, better reality, he ?sticks around a lot more than others, weirdly up till end of his adolescent years. It is in this section that Franzen mentiones the ?Comfort Zone , the thermostat mother and him. Then Joy Breaks Through is one of the interesting parts of the book where Jonathan is in his adolescent years and is resisting the common teenage temptations.

Jonathan joins a group of young people called ?Fellowship which was sponsored by the First Congregational Church. During a weekend retreat with the ?Fellowship the children are engaged in different activities typicall for such camping trips, but are also allured by various temptations (drugs, alcohol,sex etc) which are obviously forbidden. However, all Jonathan concernes about is how to avoid ?Social Death and not having to face the embarasement in case someone found his mothers letter where she addressed him as ?Dearest Jonathan.

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