Critical Lens Essay
“A friend who dies, it's something of you who dies.”
Gustave Flaubert was correct when he once said, “A friend who dies, it's something of you who dies.” By this he meant that when a person loses someone close to them, they never fully recover, almost like there’s a hole in their heart that can never be refilled. Two books that prove this are My Book of Life by Angel, by Martine Leavitt, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling. In Leavitt’s story, Angel loses her mother and her friend Serena, giving her emotional handicaps throughout the story, and stopping her from being able to escape her situation. Rowling’s character, Sirius Black, lost two of his closest friends, and never truly recovers from it. It is true that loved ones are more than just people, but they become a part of the people that care about them, a part that never leaves.
My Book of Life by Angel is full of holes. Literal holes, and figurative ones. Angel’s mother had osteoporosis, which meant she had holes in her bones. Then she died from a literal hole in her heart, which left a figurative hole in Angel’s. Because of this she runs away from home, and meets Call (the antagonist), who promises to take care of her. She tries to plug the hole in her heart with Call and his “candy”, but she ends up getting dragged down into the key conflict of the book. Throughout the story, Angel never truly comes to accept her mother’s death, but she uses the thought of her remaining family to help pull her out of her situation.
Another loss suffered by Angel is of her friend Serena, who goes missing along with multiple other girls of their profession. At first, Angel thinks Serena is going to come back, because of course she has to. She had a whole life ahead of her to live, she had money saved up under her mattress for when she finally left and was free. Deep down, Angel knew that Serena wasn’t coming back, but she masked her pain with false hope. There were multiple points throughout the book where angel could have taken Serena’s money and ran away, but she didn’t because she didn’t want to steal from her, and strip her of her future even more than the men she worked for did when they sent her out at night. Angel loved her friend, and was so emotionally scarred by her disappearance that it grounded her to her harmful life.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black also proves Flaubert right. He lost two of his closest friends, James and Lily, and was betrayed by a third. After finding out they were murdered, Sirius was filled with grief and rage, and attempted to get revenge on the friend that had betrayed them. Ironically, Sirius becomes seen as the antagonist, while Pettigrew runs free, until he escapes and goes after him again, running into Harry. Sirius attempts to replace James with Harry, at times even calling him by his father’s name on accident. Even so, it is obvious that he still grieves for the loss of his friend, even twelve years later. No matter how hard he tried, Sirius never healed from the loss of his friends.
Angel and Sirius Black help prove Flaubert correct; a person can lose part of themselves when they lose a loved one. Angel lost both her mother and her friend, causing her to run away from her life, and then to be stuck in her situation. Sirius lost two of his only friends, and with them his happiness, and some of his sanity. Human emotion always gets the better of us; it is something we can never escape.