My Brilliant Friend Analysis

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Set against the backdrop of Naples, the characters in Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend are immersed in a world of violence, ignorance, and poverty. Under this shadow, Elena and Lila struggle to define the past of their parents from their own future. In fact, it is the weight of despair that allows small moments of joy to become vibrant within the story; as James Wood describes, “deprivation gives details a snatched richness” (Wood 10). The luminosity of moments like when Elena travels to Ischia, when the two girls purchase Little Women, and lighting fireworks on New Years Eve, are integral to the depiction of brilliant friendship between them. Therefore, it is not coincidental that when the girls experience fleeting moments of childhood bliss,…show more content…
“We read it for months, so many times that the book became tattered and sweat stained, it lost its spine, came unearthed, sections fell apart […] but we loved it dearly” (68). Reading created joy between the girls, strengthening their friendship and their will to escape the encompassing darkness of the neighbourhood. Each moment spent reading in the courtyard was one where they could be children, creating an inseparable bond. There was no worry of the past becoming present, in fact, the book drove them to desire a better future. Little Women provided a luminosity from the injustices they suffered, like Lila’s inability to continue her education. Knowing education was the way out of the neighbourhood, and having the inability to receive it is crushing blow, but the book gave them a secondary option. What would have been just a book to most children became a lifeline for the girls, introducing the hope that even without direct education, the girls could learn through one another. While Elena is going to school, Lila is borrowing library books a learning in unison. Even when Lila resigns herself to staying in the neighbourhood, she remembers the luminosity learning created and wishes for Elena to continue studying, saying “No, don’t ever stop: I’ll give you the money” (312). If…show more content…
The excitement of New Years Eve comes from the lighting of the fireworks, as Elena describes, people “shouted with joy and hugged each other” (174), and the children were filled with “a fearful wonder” (174). In this moment the people, so full of anger, seem to reconcile, and the neighbourhood changes from dangerous to “a celebratory atmosphere of growing excitement” (174). This joy illuminates the childhood Elena could have had; one in which neighbours are friends, and past grudges fall away like they are nothing. However, the competitive and violent nature of the neighbourhood, emerges as the night progresses. When Rino and his friends fail to surpass the firework show put on by the Solara family, they turn to hurling insults at them from the street. This is not received kindly by the Solara brothers, who return with gunfire, as Elena describes “in order to win, [they] were shooting at us” (178). It is here, enclosed within the joy of fireworks and the threat of gunfire, that Lila experiences her first episode of “dissolving margins” (89). This episode represents the loss of innocence in both girls, and adds a new layer of complexity to their relationship. Elena begins to yearn for a deeper understanding of her best friend, emphasizing the secretive nature of Lila and her ultimate desire to disappear. While other moments of joy bring the girls closer together, this defines the two
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