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Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Friendships

How do Benji and his friends interact when they meet up with eachother each summer at Sag Harbor?

 

Are the friends more of a comfort or a challenge to each other?

 

How is status determined in these friendships?

 

Can you compare Benji's Sag Harbor friends with his private-school friends at home?

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candeny6
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎12-27-2007
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Re: Friendships

I think the friends are both a comfort AND a challenge.  There are new handshakes to learn.  New phrases.  New names to call each other. 

 

The friends at Sag Harbor share a history that goes back to the beginning of their lives, but now that they are getting older there are part-time jobs and cars and girls (hopefully!) that threaten to draw them further apart.

Candi
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kren250
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎01-01-2009
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Re: Friendships

Benji and his friends interact as if no time has gone by since they last saw each other.

 

I think the friends are both a comfort and a challenge to each other. A comfort because Benji knows the same ones will be there (more or less), and that they will welcome him into their group no matter what. A challenge because sometimes they are downright cruel to each other, as teens can sometimes be. Also seems to be some competition between all the boys, as well.

 

Status goes by a few different things. Clive is the coolest because he's the most popular and "well-rounded" in real life. Also, if the boys have a car or an empty house also determine status.

 

Benji's Sag Harbor friends seem to be more of a mix of kids, where at home it seems to be one particular group he hangs with. In Sag Harbor, because there are fewer kids you're pretty much destined to be with whoever is there that's your age, whether you have anything in common with them or not.

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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Friendships

I loved experiencing the reunions! It was a time of comfort because they found out who was around and a time of challenge with the new terminology, hand-shakes, and status check. It was a time to catch up. I think the comfort was the most important part of the reunions because it provided some stability. These kids had seen too many of their friends/acquaintances not return, so seeing them was a joy. They seemed ready to pick up right where they had left off.

 

When Benji was in school, he was in the minority. He was probably the only "black kid" at a bar/bat mitzvah, and would watch how others reacted to him. Even walking down the street caused reactions like, "Is your father an African diplomat?" But, in Sag Harbor, he was in the majority. It was their place - a place they were protective of, a place they loved. This was where they felt free and comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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artist4nature
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎09-02-2007
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Re: Friendships

Benji was at an age when being accepted was important -  although he did have a "social life" during he school year, it was with the white kid in his private school.  At parties he was visually different to the adults and relatives of his friends.

 

Sag Harbor summers allowed Benji time to connect back with his ethnic background - the handshakes and other signs that he could belong with the gang. The freedom to hang out with out the parents around let him experiment with how he could fit into the group.

Distinguished Correspondent
biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008

Re: Friendships

It seems to me that the status of being friend changes dramatically depending what you have to offer the rest of them. Even if you don't fit in if you have something that is desired your status automatically is elevated. I feel this is the case of Randy who really did not fit in with either Benji's or Elena's group due tohis age but he did have a car so he was in. The car then opened another can of worms fore the rest of the group as to what thier status was in regards to were you able to ride, where you sat, etc.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Friendships

I really got a kick out of the reunion of the friends, Mr. Whitehead's descriptions were so lifelike I could actually see the slapping hands in my head as I was reading. I got the impression that all of the boys even though they acted cool were uncertain of their roll in the group and they redefined that roll every summer. Since they are getting "of an age" this summer on of the status symbols. is having a car. I think the friends are a comfort to each other more than a challenge, they have the unity of all being together against the world at least in summer.

I got the feeling from Benji that he really liked both sets of friends, but perhaps he felt less of an enigma at Sag Harbor.

Frequent Contributor
booksJT
Posts: 108
Registered: ‎11-24-2008

Re: Friendships

I think the friends are both a comfort and a challenge. When they return each summer they have new things to talk about and try. They have the new handshakes, new songs  and the newest cool word for the summer. The friends in private school are much different then in Sag Harbor. In the school they have little in common. Benji never goes anywhere with the kids from private school. He is just there because his parents could afford to send him. He is the only minority who has to defend himself everyday. In Sag Harbor everyone is n equal. They have the same background  and they share a common interest. He doesn't have to worry about fitting in.  He can be himself in Sag Harbor.
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emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Friendships

Benji and his friends interact as if they have seen each other everyday. They seem to just pick up where they left off.

 

I think that his friends are a little of both. They are a comfort because they are familiar. He has pretty much grown-up with them every summer. The challenge comes when they call each other names and compete with each other.

 

There statuses are determined by the things they have and the thing they have achieved in life.

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sconcannon
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎10-02-2007
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Re: Friendships

The way beni looks at his relationships with his friends very much reminded me of highschool.  The cool kid that can do no wrong is the kid with the car and is old enough to buy beer, there's the kid who just doesnt fit in on any given day...but then fits in on another.  Benji is just a typical adolescent with money in alot of ways stuck in between 2 worlds.  His family has money and he enjoys the amenities of that money as the same as the kids at school but in some respects he wonders is that good enough its like hes trapped in between 2 worlds... the world of black money and the world of white money while all the while just trying to fit in with his friends.  
"Yes she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision." - Virginia Woof, To the Lighthouse.
Contributor
lisadiane
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-31-2009

Re: Friendships

Like his writing, Benji seems to stay a distance from his friends.  He describes them wonderfully and I love the way the author uses words!  So fun and yet it paints a great picture.  However,  I am finding it difficult to feel for the characters.  I keep thinking- "when is the story going to start? "

 

It almost feels like a set of essays.

 

What do you think?  Am I off track?

 

Lisa

Inspired Wordsmith
CathyB
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎12-30-2006
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Re: Friendships

When Ben and his friends first see each other again after the long school year, they fall into familiar roles. Yes, there are new things to learn (handshake, music that is cool) and new things to take in (ones changed appearance); however, there is comfort in seeing an 'old' friend.

 

Status is determined by a variety of things. Perception, looks, ownership of a car, empty-house status, etc....

 

With the exception of Ben being the only african american amongst his friends at school, I see no differnce between the two sets of friends. They are all teenagers trying to fit in the best they can wherever they happen to be.

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sconcannon
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎10-02-2007
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Re: Friendships

I agree its hard to get a feel for the people in the story.  Usually when i read a story i become so enveloped with some of the characters i can see them feel them almost know what they are thinking.  i did not get that feeling with this work
"Yes she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision." - Virginia Woof, To the Lighthouse.
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deaver
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎02-04-2009
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Re: Friendships

Ben and his friends.  This is one of the joys of the book.  It was sweet to read how the boys interacted with each other, the details, descritptions, fiascos, were all quite charming.

I would think that Ben and the boys find each other both comforting and challenging.  Comforting because they're so familiar.  And as Whitehead says, they save each other from being alone.  They grew up together and have a lot of common ground.  But they also have challenges in the sense that we all so when interacting socially.  We try to fit in.  We try not to be overcome by anothers power play and so on. 

 

Comparing the two different friends (Sag friends and school friends) is a little more difficult because so much of the book is spent on the friends at Sag.  However, the obvious differences did display themselves in the book.  His friendships with the people at school seem to be close and they seem also to fit more with his deeper personality.  Maybe this is where the 'double consciousness' fits in.  He seems suited for a private white school.  Yet, when at Sag, he seems suited there.  Culturally, he fits in at Sag; at the same time, he fits in so well with the stero-typical private school type.  We adapt and adjust as humans so is this so unusual?

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kren250
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎01-01-2009
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Re: Friendships


lisadiane wrote:

Like his writing, Benji seems to stay a distance from his friends.  He describes them wonderfully and I love the way the author uses words!  So fun and yet it paints a great picture.  However,  I am finding it difficult to feel for the characters.  I keep thinking- "when is the story going to start? "

 

It almost feels like a set of essays.

 

What do you think?  Am I off track?

 

Lisa


 

Lisa, that's how I've felt about this book too. I really enjoyed the writing, but the plot itself just didn't do it for me. I thought it felt disjointed, and skipped around too much. As soon as I really started to get into a certain part, it would end and we'd be on to the next.
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Eckwell
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Friendships

It seems as tho the friends pretty much pick up where they left off the summer before, but with some changes determined by the changes in their ages and experiences.  From what I can tell thus far, his Sag Harbor friends are more "real" than those private school friends, although those friends are not as developed in this book.
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crafty_girl
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎02-04-2009
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Re: Friendships

I think that the friendships are a comfort.  It seems that this is the one place where Benji can go and just "be".  These are the friends that he picks back up with as if no time has passed and their lives continue on from where they left off.  It could also be comfort as the expectations out at Sag seem to be known...there is a progression that life seems to follow
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Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Friendships

The Sag Harbor friends....................well, I get the feeling that these friends are more like family.  They are the cousins you see only at Christmas and Easter.  You play with them because there's no one else around. There is a bond through family friends and you love them, care for them. Yet, do you really know them. 

 

The private school friends.................I think these are the friends that can last a lifetime.  They are the friendships Benji will forge on his own.  When you're an adolescent, if I remember correctly, you don't want to hang with the people your parents introduce you to, I think that is a part of breaking away.  You want to find your own people.

 

I hope we'll learn more about Benji's lasting relationships and which ones were the stronger.

 

Do you think there's anyi validity to this?

Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
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It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
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Sassy398
Posts: 56
Registered: ‎11-03-2008
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Re: Friendships

I feel in this chapter, this is a time Benji looks forward to. As for school, there is

some comfort, but the summertime home is where fun and happy times are.

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lg4154
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎02-06-2009
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Re: Friendships

It seems that he was  most comfortable with his friends at Sag Harbor. The school was completely opposite to Sag Harbor  and having the freedom at home must have been kinda a bummer. I am jealous though, my Mom did not work and was always there watching us! Could not get away with a whole lot!