The Power Of True Friendship

January 20, 2011
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Obstacles in life are like a microscope, they let us see below the surface into the true nature of a relationship. The magnification offered by challenges and adversity allows us to see whom our true friends are and who are not. Sometimes what is revealed is unexpected and surprising. Often what we find is not what we want to see but is the harsh reality. Some people we think we can count on we cannot. However, true friendships are forged in the fire of adversity, and like a sword they will stay by your side to help you in times of need.
Many novels explore the theme of friendships tested and developed in hardship. One of these novels is Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keys. This novel is about a mentally challenged man who has an opportunity to triple his IQ from 67 to 201. One example of a relationship between true friends is between Ms. Kinnian and Charlie, the main character. Throughout the novel, the two remain friends despite the increasing and decreasing of Charlie’s IQ. Up until the point when Charlie moves away, Ms. Kinnian gives him constant support no matter what. It becomes evident that Ms. Kinnian cares about Charlie in the very beginning of the book. She tells Charlie, “you know it will probably be temporary” (Keys 2), this is referring to the operation. Ms Kinnian is worried that if Charlie’s IQ increases but then decreases, he will be hurt emotionally. However, in the novel not all of Charlie’s friendships are true friendships. Charlie’s “friendship” with Joe Carp and Frank Reilly, two men from the factory where he works. The two men use Charlie for laughs, but as soon as Charlie’s intellect begins to increase the two men sign a petition to fire him from his job. So Joe and Frank aren’t Charlie’s true friends, in fact they aren’t his friends at all. The mental struggle that Charlie endures allows the reader to identify who are Charlie’s true friends and who are not.

Another novel that shows true friendships surviving and growing through tests and struggles is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. In this novel, a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is recruited by a wizard and a group of dwarves on an adventure to steal a dragon’s treasure. Throughout the novel, Bilbo develops friendships with both Gandalf the wizard and the dwarves. While the struggles that are seen in Flowers for Algernon are mental challenges, the struggles in The Hobbit are physical, life or death challenges. For example, at the beginning of the novel on page 38, three trolls capture the dwarves and plan to roast and eat them. Due to being outnumbered and outsized, Bilbo is unable to help his friends. Fortunately, Gandalf comes to the rescue and saves the dwarves. While Gandalf could have ridiculed the dwarves and taunted them about their capture, he merely warns them and allows the experience to bring the odd group of Middle Earth residents together. Another close encounter happened to just Bilbo and the Dwarves. On page 234 and 235 while trying to steal Smaug’s (a dragon) treasure, Smaug blocks the dwarves’ entrance to his mountain, and the only way out is through the dragon’s lair. The dwarves are timorous about continuing, however, Bilbo encourages them. He yells, “while there’s life there’s hope,” encouraging his companions not to be paralyzed by fear and to push through adversity together. This convinces the dwarves to move forward and to successfully reclaim their treasure, which Smaug stole. Throughout The Hobbit, an odd group of friends fight through adversity and obstacles. Powerful friendships fighting through adversity can be seen everywhere.
A movie that explores true friendships and how they fight through adversity is The Blind Side. In this movie, an African American young man named Michael Oher who is in high school is adopted into a rich family. Before, he had no home, no family, no education, and no money. He had nothing. Then all of a sudden he lives in a huge house, is given a shiny new car, has a loving family, and doesn’t have to worry about money. However, he still has the anger and sadness from being separated from his birth mother at a young age. Fortunately, his is able to channel those powerful emotions into football and soon becomes a standout player that every college is begging to have. As time passes in the motion picture, Michael transforms from a quiet depressed person into a happy and talented man. Unfortunately, these changes don’t come easily. Michael has to overcome huge obstacles on his way to becoming the person he wants to be. Luckily for him, he has the support and love of a few people in his life that make it all possible. One of these people is his foster mother, Leigh Ann Tuohy. Michael shares a very special relationship with her. She helps Michael every step of the way. When a women who works for the NCAA convinces him that his foster parents adopted him just to send a talented athlete to Ole. Miss, their alma mater, Michael runs away from home. He meets up with a group of thugs from where he used to live, and he begins drinking. Then later that night, he gets into a fight with the group and runs out to spend the night on the street. The next morning Leigh Ann goes out looking for him. She runs into Marcus the “leader” of the thugs. Marcus begins making threats and instead of backing down Leigh Ann says, “if you threaten my son you threaten me.” This proves that she will stand up for and support Michael no matter what happens. Later that day, she finds Michael sitting on a street corner. Leigh Ann says that whether he decides to flip burgers or wants to play in the NFL she will always be there for him. Another friendship that survives hard times in The Blind Side is Michael’s relationship with his stepbrother S.J. When the two are in a car crash which was mostly Michael’s fault, Michael blocks the air bag to prevent it from hitting S.J., who was much two small to be sitting in the front seat. This might have saved S.J.’s life and let him walk away from the car crash with only minor cuts and scrapes. Instead of the traumatic experience causing the two to fight and bicker, S.J. forgives Michael and the two friends are brought closer together. This film gives moving examples of true friends pushing through adversity.

Throughout history, examples of true friendship overcoming challenges have occurred. One of these was the powerful friendship between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Most people see these two as an inspiration to fight for your beliefs despite common opposition. Not many people realize that these two women stayed good friends despite constant rejection. In 1852, the two women developed the Women’s New York State Temperance Society despite the majority of society disagreeing with the concepts it followed. Also, in 1868, the two women began publishing a weekly periodical expressing their beliefs, despite the majority of the population disagreeing with their views. One of Susan B. Anthony’s most famous quotes was “failure is impossible.” With the support and help exchanged by Stanton and Anthony and the friendship they shared, failure really was impossible. These true friends brought together by an unpopular belief were able to overcome constant tests and struggles.

The idea of true friendship overcoming challenges can be seen in everyday life. Most people have or have had a friend with whom they have argued. In the cases where these friends are true friends, the friendship survives. If not, usually the two people will grow apart. About three years ago, my family got a second dog. My first dog, Oly, wasn’t too happy about that. The new dog got all the attention, and Oly began to feel lonely. Also, the new dog, Esme, was really mean to him. For a while Oly was depressed and would just sit for hours on a couch or in a corner. Fortunately, my family took notice of this and began taking him on extra long walks and playing with him all the time. Also, when I came home from school, I would teach him tricks and give him treats. So after a few months Oly made a full recovery! Currently, Oly is an awesome, happy, silly, fun-loving dog. So even after the rut he was in, his friends and family gave him the love he needed and now he is the best dog ever! Another example of this theme in my life can be seen in a friend from school. There have been times at my old school in New Jersey when I got into horrible arguments with friends. One time one of my friends and I were working on a science project together, and he was slacking off. When I pointed this out to him, it caused a disagreement and we ended up not speaking to each other for months. Fortunately, we forgot about it, and even after I moved he is still one of my best friends. Friends quarrel, but true friendships survive those fights and become stronger along the way.

True friends persevere through obstacles. Whether it is in a fantasy novel, an inspirational movie, an event that took place hundreds of years ago, or even in everyday life, true friends persist through challenges. Maybe deep friendships push through adversity because everyone needs true friends just as much as they need a loving family. Without true friends who are there to stand by you in hard times, life seems to be missing something. That is why true friendship is able to climb the steep, slippery, cold mountain of tests and struggles throughout life!

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