Examining The Friendship Of A Single Soul English Literature Essay

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"To the query, 'what is a friend?' Aristotle's response was 'a single soul dwelling in two bodies.'" These friends are the ones who most likely know us better than we know ourselves, and whose names are forever branded on our heart (Parrott & Parrott, 1998). Consider for a moment, which of these people are in your life; your friendship with them didn't happen in the blink of an eye. Over time we gradually begin to let these people see who we really are, and our friendship begins to grow into something memorable. "Friends are what have enriched my life. Oh, I have loved my family, but it's not the same. Friends have brought me more of the world; they've added spice and variety" (Apter & Josselson, 1998). We are born into our family, but one amazing thing about our life is that we have the ability to choose our friends. There are some common characteristics that span across all types of friendships: rules shape the friendship, can last a lifetime and typically consist of people in the same age range (Floyd, 2009). How are cross-sex friendships similar to same-sex friendships? How are they different? Using major motion pictures that depict this remarkable bond between friends, we realize the qualities these friendships possess that make them similar and yet how different they really are.

Similarities

Notice that when Aristotle was asked, "what is a friend?" he didn't respond "a single soul dwelling in two female bodies, or two male bodies, or even a male and a female body," it's a single soul in two bodies. Friendship has no limits; there is no rule that says we can or cannot have friends of the same or opposite sex. Regardless of how many friends we have, same-sex or cross-sex, they all share the same purpose. Each and every relationship provides comfort during difficult times, outlets for expression of fear, feelings and fantasies, companionship, acceptance, and greater self-knowledge (Monsour, 2002).

In the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Bridget, Tibby, Lena, and Carmen define friendship as it occurs between girls/women. "We were there for the things we couldn't face alone, or the ones we didn't want to face at all. Together, it was as if we formed one single, complete person" (Ephron & Brashares, 2005). Despite the obstacles that the girls face, their love and support for each other keeps their friendship strong.

We know now that no matter how far we traveled on our own separate paths, somehow we

would always find our way back to each other; and with that, we could get through anything. To us, who we were, who we are, and who we'll be. To the sisterhood, this moment, and the rest of our lives together and apart (Ephron & Brashares, 2005).

Although the girls have their own obstacles to deal with, they overcome them individually because of the unique bond that is their friendship.

Likewise, the movie 8 Seconds tells the incredible true story of World Champion Bull Rider Lane Frost. The film not only documents Lane's rise to fame, but also displays Lane's friendship with fellow bull riders, Tuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert. Some people believe that men are incapable of having intimate friendships like women with other men (Derlega, 1992). Floyd (2009) states that equal levels of closeness are apparent in same-sex friendships regardless of sex. While doing an interview with George Michael, Lane says this about friend and fellow rider, Tuff Hedeman: "…me and my traveling partner Tuff Hedeman have been trading places all year. Sometimes he's in first, next week I'm in first. If he wins, I'll be so happy for him, I'll forget about myself losing" (Merrick, 1994). Lane, Tuff, and Cody aren't just traveling buddies; they support each other no matter what, despite the fact that they compete against each other. After Lane's tragic death in 1989, Tuff realized how much Lane believed in him, and how amazing the friendship truly was. "Back in the spring, Lane said, 'this is your year.' that I'd win the championship; […] now it's only a week away and I really think that I got a chance. I never had anybody believe that much in me" (Merrick, 1994). Tuff Hedeman won the World Championship that year, just as Lane had predicted, and Tuff rode an extra eight seconds in memory of Lane.

Harry Burns and Sally Albright are two iconic best friends. "Harry: The first time we met, we hated each other […] the third time we met, we became friends. Sally: We were friends for a long time" (Ephron N. , 1989). Can men and women be friends, without sex getting in the way? This question was presented in the 1989 movie, When Harry Met Sally. Despite the fact that Harry and Sally end up together at the conclusion of the film, the friendship they have is more than that of any ordinary couple involved in a sexual relationship. "Making a cross-gender relationship work does not solely depend on recognizing our differences. It's a matter of appreciating those differences as well (Parrott & Parrott, 1998). Harry and Sally have a friendship very similar to what two women or two men might have; they are each other's confidantes, support systems, and are committed to making their friendship work.

After looking at three different films depicting friendships, the similarities between same-sex (female), same-sex (male), and cross-sex friendships become apparent. The social support given by same-sex friends can also be observed in cross-sex friendships (Monsour, 2002). Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, "friendship is a sheltering tree", regardless of sex, it is obvious that all of these friendships are exactly that; a sheltering tree for everyone involved in the friendship.

Differences

We can't just look at the similarities between friendships, because lets face it, men and women are very different. The basic "rules" of friendship are similar, but the way we go about accomplishing them isn't always the same. Migliaccio (2009) says that a man's friendship is more than simply a product of being a man […] the form of intimacy men experience is called 'closeness in the doing', also known as shared activity. "…women and men value different aspects of their respective friendships, women place greater emphasis on conversational and emotional expressiveness, whereas men's friendships focus on shared activities and interests" (Floyd, 2009). A stereotypical "girls night" might consist of dinner, some drinks, and conversations about friends, love, life, and the future. On the other hand, a "guys night" could be a game of poker or a night at the gym playing a pick-up game of basketball.

"Within female friendship we satisfy our psychological hunger to explore different thoughts and feelings […] they build one another's confidence or tear it down" (Apter & Josselson, 1998). Despite having to spend the summer away from each other, the girls in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants keep their friendship strong by writing letters to each other as if they were still together. In a letter that Lena writes Carmen, she expresses how afraid she actually is to fall in love.

He's right, Car. I am afraid. There's a part of me that wants to let him in but then I feel

myself put this wall up and I don't understand why. Maybe that's what strikes me most about Kostas: that despite everything he's suffered he can still look at life in the most uncomplicated way. I've never known that kind of faith. It makes me so sad that people like Kostas and Bridget who have lost everything can still be open to love...while I, who have lost nothing, am not. (Ephron & Brashares, 2005)

Bridget, Tibby, Lena, and Carmen are able to express their emotions, fears, and feelings through a letter and a pair of secondhand jeans. "Wear them, they'll make you brave" (Ephron & Brashares, 2005). The psychological hunger to examine ones ambitions, and emotions is satisfied by female friendships, there is no need to "perform femininity" such as men "perform masculinity" in their friendships. A woman's friendship inevitably shapes and changes who the woman is (Apter & Josselson, 1998).

Unlike women, men stereotypically don't share all the intimate details that go on in their lives. As stated earlier, men generally emphasize the activities and interests they share with their friends. Lane Frost, Tuff Hedeman, and Cody Lambert, obviously have a friendship consisting of shared activity. First of all, they compete together in bull riding competitions; and when they aren't, they spend their nights out at the bars shooting a game of pool. Although the guys still support each other, the emotional connection that typically is apparent with women is sometimes nonexistent. After a bull steps on Lane's groin, Tuff tells Lane he needs to 'cowboy up,' "I've got two words for you Lane, Cowboy Up" (Merrick, 1994). The idea that masculinity is a major part in friendships between two or more men is evident in 8 Seconds. "The interaction between male friends is not simply because we are men, but a part of performing masculinity in society" (Migliaccio, 2009). Lane, Tuff, and Cody, "perform masculinity" by expressing boldness, strength, and resiliency. "It's guts and love and glory, one mortal's chance at fame. His legacy is rodeo, and cowboy is his name" (Merrick, 1994).

When Harry met Sally, a life long friendship began. The obvious difference in their friendship was the exact thing Sally denied - sex, and eventually love. At the end of the film, Harry races to meet Sally in order to tell her exactly how he feels:

I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to

order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night (Ephron N. , 1989).

One substantial difference between same-sex friends and cross-sex friends is the possibility for two cross-sex friends to fall in love. Another is that cross-sex friends are able to encourage the opposite sex friend to engage in opportunities that are usually associated with the opposed gender; such as men engaging in emotional expressions and women participating in shared activity (Floyd, 2009).

Conclusion

Quoting Frederick Buechner, "Friends are people you make part of your life just because you feel like it. Basically your friends are not your friends for any particular reason. They are your friends for no particular reason." No one has the power to choose our friends except us, therefore it doesn't matter what sex our friends are. After viewing three movies where different types of friendships are exhibited, the similarities and differences between each type of friendship is very distinct. These distinct qualities that make our friendships alike or not, have the power to change the roles of our friends. Who are your best friends? Does it matter what their sex is?

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