Grammatical Analysis Of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom

Submitted By K.k.-Reneè
Words: 1041
Pages: 5

Kristi Kakoliris
Dr, Conway
Grammatical Analysis 1
March 4, 2015
Grammatical Analysis of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom:
What He’s Saying When He’s Saying Something Else All grammatical choices force a mood or an opinion on the reader, which is what we call the “rhetorical effect.” Kolln and Gray (2013) define rhetoric as “the art of using language effectively” (p.2). Jonathan Franzen’s grammatical choices give the reader a very specific idea of what they should thinking and feeling throughout the novel. His particular form of rhetoric is achieved by many grammatical choices. This being said, some of his choices are more predominate throughout his novel and these particular choices provide the reader with a clear idea of what exactly one is supposed to feel and believe. He does this by using third person narration, series and serial commas, and adjectives as power words. The selected excerpt gives a great view into how, while Franzen is simply giving you the facts, he is underlying a much deeper, deliberate but not blatant mood in the novel. In the selected excerpt, the reader is provided with information about multiple characters already introduced in the novel. The entire excerpt, and book for that matter, is written in third person narrative. By using third person narration, Franzen comes across as a more reliable narrator. This is typical in third person narration in general, however, Franzen uses it in order to make every character seem a certain way. If Franzen had chosen to do first person narration with every character, giving them their own voices, the reader would not be sure who or what to believe. Having third person narration forces an objective view; the reader has no reason to believe that the narrator is choosing sides or has opinions. For example, if the quote, “To Seth Paulsen, who talked about Patty a little too often for his wife's taste, the Berglunds were the super-guilty sort of liberals who needed to forgive everybody so their own good fortune could be forgiven; who lacked the courage of their privilege” had been written in first person by Seth Paulsen’s wife in lieu of third person narration, the reader might believe that perhaps his wife was just jealous. Instead, using third person subconsciously makes the reader develop a non-biased opinion of Seth Paulsen without having to question if the narrator is biased. Franzen also uses many ways to describe people, most commonly lists in the form of series. While it might seem like this way of giving information is common and straightforward, the way Franzen goes about it is very deliberate. Instead of breaking up each thing he is describing and giving all of them a sentence, he creates a very nonchalant, laid-back, and casual way of providing information. In the excerpt, “She smoked Parliaments, bleached her hair, made lurid talons of her nails, fed her daughter heavily processed foods, and came home very late on Thursday nights”, had Franzen not listed but described each characteristic in detail, it would have taken away from the casual, to-the-point nature of his writing. Making a list of descriptions of a person and not elaborating or giving any more details gives the reader a sense of a stream of consciousness; he lists these facts and sets a mood of the matter-of-factness of the kind of person this character is. While Franzen’s writing style in general is very casual and gives you the sense of a non-biased narrator due to the use of third person, it is his descriptive adjectives used as power words that provide the reader with an overall, subconscious sense of what Franzen intends you to feel. An adjective is defined by Kolln and Gray as “one of the four form classes, whose members act as modifiers of nouns” (p.260). The use of descriptive adjectives causes “a statement of fact into an arguable proposition” (112). A great example of Franzen’s use of adjectives as power words in this particular selection is when he is describing