Friends are like water in the desert. They sustain us and fill our lives with joy. It is better to go through life accompanied by friends then fight for one’s own way and pass through it alone. Friendship requires each person to seek the good of the other even if that means making hard decisions. The nuances and intricacies of young friendship are explored with great skill in J.K. Rowling’s world-renowned series, Harry Potter. As young people emerge from high school and beyond, these books open their eyes to the importance and meaning of true friendship.
Despite the extremely vocal critics of the series, Harry Potter is primarily concerned with one boy and his friends struggling against a monstrous evil. The greatest defense from the onslaught of darkness is found in the power and love of friends. For instance, it is the friendly love that Hermione holds for Ron that prompts her to heal him after he has been poisoned. Harry sacrifices himself on more than one occasion (Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, etc.) for the sake of his friends.
However, friendship is not always easy. Rowling provides a realistic peek into the nature of friendship in all its tempestuous glory. The greatest concern is a personal confrontation. In a universe where a young wizard is surrounded by darkness, it is crucial that friends look out for one another. This means confronting each other even when it is difficult. Neville Longbottom confronts all three – Harry, Ron, and Hermione – towards the end of the Sorcerer’s Stone and is rewarded by Albus Dumbledore for his bravery. Sometimes intervention may appear ridiculous or even nosy, but Rowling shows that it is necessary. Allowing a friend to do whatever they want whenever they want is the quickest path to the dark lord.
Like all of us, Harry cannot figure everything out on his own. He needs the advice of his friends. Good friends need to be prepared to watch out for each other and confront one another, especially, if the other is engaging in self-destructive or dangerous activities. Friends who do not communicate and aid one another are no friends at all.
Healthy conflict in friendship is a natural tool for maturity. The only reason Harry grows into a selfless character is that of his countless friends and the examples he witnesses along the way. Would Harry have entered the Chamber of Secrets to aid Ginny Weasley if Hermione had not gotten petrified in her attempt to help him? Again, Harry is less likely to make a rash decision after the calamity that befalls Sirius Black and his ultimate act of self-sacrifice. In the end, the act of maturing is learning through one’s own experiences both good and bad.
Throughout the series, the readers mature along with Harry. As he grows in his understanding of self-sacrificial love, they do as well. The Harry Potter series is the absolute best! Not only is it highly entertaining, but it possesses a challenging profundity and beauty which is uncommon in recent young adult fiction.