With its wildly popular miniseries now out, Sally Rooney’s novel Conversations with Friends is attracting hoards of new readers. The book tells the story of Frances as she uncovers what love and relationships mean to her–particularly as it relates to her eccentric best friend and former lover Bobbi, and a married actor named Nick.
Previously, I explored how pronouns operate in the story. This time, I was curious how the characters interplay in the book. So, I turned to word frequencies of their names, using a literary data set you too can explore here.
It makes sense to me that Frances’ name appears least often, as the book is written from her perspective. But I find the ebb and flow of Nick and Bobbi’s names fascinating. Without giving too much away, these two characters represents two kinds of love Frances requires. A closer look at the oscillating frequency of their names’ usage across chapters speaks volumes about Frances’ inner struggle to understand who she is, and more importantly who she wishes to become.
I am eager to go back to the book to see what happens in chapters where both Nick and Bobbi are used infrequently (Chapters 18 & 27) as well as in Chapter 13 where they are used with comparable frequency. I suspect Frances learns something pivotal in those chapters, something essential about what kinds of love she needs.
(And I bet it makes that phenomenal last line of the book even more poignant…)
Tell me if I’m right! Dive into the book for yourself and share what you find. And if you are eager to explore the literary data for yourself, go for it right here.