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Friendship between Leah and Natalie

Mindy Lu's picture

Friendship between Leah and Natalie


  Relationships make a novel. Every single piece of stories is connected and combined by relationships of various sorts. Complex relationships among characters make plots splendid. In the novel NW by Zadie Smith, there are lots of relationships not only among characters but also among the backgrounds, the city, the stories and the fates, which makes the novel absorbing and interesting.  


  The central relationship in the book is the lifelong friendship between Natalie and Leah. Leah and Natalie have become best friends since grade school. However, although they grew up in the same housing development, attended the same school, and played in the same parks, when they grew up and became adults, their lives have spun in different directions. Natalie become a successful lawyer and marries a perfect man. Meanwhile, although Leah has a good degree from a good university, she gets a dead-end job in a welfare-distribution office and marries a hairdresser. Natalie and Leah still live in the same neighborhood where they grew up, but Natalie now lives in a big house with beautiful views, has a wealthy husband, becomes a mother of two children and hosts elegant dinner parties and casual brunches that make Leah uncomfortable. To Leah, although they live closely, it seems like that they live in completely different worlds. When an unexpected visitor shows up at Leah’s door and begs for money, Leah and Natalie’s worldviews are drawn into sharper conflict. Natalie, who has accumulated reputation, wealth, and worldliness, considers that Leah has been duped; Leah, however, thinks Natalie has been duped by her ambitions while Natalie seems certain she is going in the right direction. But, actually, Leah envies Natalie’s rich life.


  In the book, different worldviews leads to doubt, envy and conflict, which eventually successfully change the friendship between two girls who have been best friends since their childhood. In my point of view, it is a great tragedy and pity, because I think friendship is precious and should not be affected by different opinions or different fates. Indeed, friendship is stated with understanding, love and trust, but is not stated with similar lives or worldviews. In the book, Leah and Natalie experienced so much together and once became the most reliable person for each other, which undoubtedly makes their friendship indestructible. But when their lives began to turn into different ways, the conflict appeared because they opposed the ways of lives chosen by each other. At that time, they ignored the most important element of friendship— understanding. They once loved each other, but did not last for longer, because they do not try to understand each other. Everyone has their own minds and they usually hold different opinion about lives. It is extremely common that different people choose different way to live, but Natalie and Leah forget that. They have not tried to understand each other’s decision and choice. 


  Even worse, in the book, Leah, who doubts the way that Natalie lives, indeed envy her best friend at the same time. When I read the book, I can feel the conflict inside Leah’s heart. In one hand, she hates Natalie’s ambition of wealth and reputation. In the other hand, she is eager to achieve what Natalie has, such as the large house, nice job, and money. It is reasonable that Leah become envy because her friend who used to share similar lives with her seems live much better than her. However, it is not a good reason that why their friendship changes. Actually, the real friends admire each other, but never envy. For example, my best friend Sally and I have been best friend for six years. This year, we chose different ways of lives—I chose to study abroad while she went to a design school. The truth is that I admire that she can study fashion design, which I really interested in but I cannot learn further in my current college, and she admires that I can study in an American college to widen my horizon. Moreover, we also have different worldviews, but every time when we hold opposite ideas, we talk and always enjoy our conversation.


  All in all, the friendship between Leah and Natalie cannot be considered as a real friendship-- perhaps it once was, but became not later.