Thursday, January 13, 2011

Harry Potter: Mountain Troll and Friendship

"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them" (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Scholastic, p. 222).

In their first two months at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley are not fond of their classmate Hermione Granger. They see Hermione as a bossy know-it-all. But after Harry, Ron, and Hermione find themselves face to face with a mountain troll and work together to knock him out, the three become fast friends.

This makes me think about the kinds of experiences that lead people to bond in friendship. I can think of four kinds of such experiences.

FACING DANGER. The mountain troll of the first Harry Potter novel fits into this category. So does the bonding that often occurs among men of the same military unit in war. A wonderful story in this category comes from Hurricane Betsy in 1965. A mother with a newborn baby (named Betsy) had to leave her child in the care of someone at a shelter for a short time and chose a school teacher with a kind face. The mother, her family, and Betsy became lifelong friends of that school teacher. This true story was enacted in Remembering Betsy: Voices from the Storm, a play that grew out of a high school oral history project during the early 2000s in Chalmette, Louisiana. The actual school teacher enacted the role of herself in the play.

ACCOMPLISHING A GOAL. Those who work together to accomplish a goal often bond closely. The goal might be anything from climbing Mount Everest to establishing a neighborhood community garden.

TALKING OPENLY. When people are able to open up and speak honestly about themselves with each other from their hearts, a close bond is often created.

SHARING FORMATIVE EXPERIENCES. I find this to be true with my classmates from the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Many of us spent the major part of each day together for fourteen years - pre-Kindergarden, Kindergarden, and twelve grades of elementary and high school. We shared and were shaped by the special traditions and ways of teaching of the Religious of the Sacred Heart. I feel a bond with anyone who has attended a Sacred Heart school, especially the one in New Orleans, and very specially with the members of my class.

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