What is friendship if not the camaraderie between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Yes, the first example on friendship that comes to my mind is from Mark Twain’s book. Every book we read etches its mark on us with its characters…some of these characters and their relationship with others strike an emotional chord with us and live forever in our memory.
On this friendship day, I write about friendship depicted in some of my favourite books.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The first lesson on friendship has to be derived from Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth and Charlotte are two completely opposite characters in their physical attributes and characteristics. The two friends who also happen to be neighbours have such a great bond between them. Reading about their conversations on love, marriage and relationships is so riveting, even their dissenting views on Mr. Collins!
‘I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.’ – Charlotte to Elizabeth
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Siblings are your best friends. Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ tells us about the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy and their friendship. The March sisters are kind and thoughtful, empathetic towards the difficulties faced by others who are less privileged than they are, sidelining their little girlish whims. It is heartwarming to read about their Christmas Eve enactments, Pickwick Club pretend proceedings, and the picnic playtimes.
“Take some books and read; that’s an immense help; and books are always good company if you have the right sort.”
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Not the length of a friendship but impact a friend has on your personality is important. The kind where the goodness of your friend brushes onto your character. Helen is Jane’s only friend at Lowood Charity School for Orphans. Helen is different from Jane who believes in tolerance and forgiveness instead of anger or confrontation. Jane had no real relationship before having Helen as her friend and, sadly she has to let go of this one person too but it had an influence on her for a lifetime.
“It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected to you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.”
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor is a 29-year-old protagonist, single and socially awkward who lives in Glasgow. She is a loner battling psychological issues from childhood trauma. In the entire novel, the only person who comes closest to being her friend is Raymond, an office colleague. This may not be the perfect example of a friendship but it is a breakthrough in Eleanor’s tumultuous life. And, shows how a single person’s presence in your life can be a glimmer of hope.
‘My first pal! Granted, he was a poorly turned out computer repair man with a range of unfortunate social habits, but still – pals!’
Where Rainbows End or Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
Rosie and Alex are childhood friends, the example of a perfect childhood friendship but one that gets drifted apart. Your best friend can be your soulmate. The book seeks to question if these two are meant to be just friends or perhaps much more? It isn’t easy for the two as life progress and they meet new people. As a reader, you get to know these two characters over a period of 50 years on a changing turf of relationships!
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The young boy and the old Buddhist monk, an unusual friendship. A friend or a guardian or a mentor…but above all, it comes across as a friendship. ‘Kim’ is the story of a young orphan boy, born to Irish parents and living all by himself on the streets of Lahore. Later, he befriends a Buddhist Lama who is in search of ‘River of the Arrow’. Their travel together and Kim’s turn of luck is a tremendous self-journey, one that is both spiritual and inspiring.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
‘Siddhartha’ is the story of – Siddhartha and Govinda, best friends who are on their quest to understand life and spirituality. Siddhartha and Govinda spend substantial time learning to renounce worldly pleasures and desires. There are deep philosophical discussions between the two on understanding the meaning and relevance of meditation and fasting. However, the two part their ways and lead separate paths to seek enlightenment.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is all about chasing the big American Dream. Though you can at no point ignore the friendship between Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. Nick Carraway is the narrator of the book and Gatsby’s neighbor. It is the kind of conceited friendship where Gatsby is constantly trying to hide his true identity from Nick yet wants him around.
‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had.’
The Wind in the Willows by Grahame Kenneth
This book is categorized as a children’s book but while reading it as an adult, it gives way to a deeper understanding of human relations. The story is about four friends – the anthropomorphized versions of the Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. Metaphorically, the book lets you see the world in a philosophical light through these four characters – distinct and clear about one’s expectations and feelings. It is a story where you see loyalty and acceptance of faults in friendship.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The eternal friendship between us and the environment or, rather a questionable one in the present scenario of environmental degradation. This childhood read brings to fore the themes of unconditional love, materialism, and environment. ‘The Giving Tree’ is about the friendship between a boy and a tree, where the tree gives and gives without expecting anything in return.
I hope you liked reading my take on the prompt ‘Define Friendship’!