Four Reasons Why We Love Harry and Ron’s Friendship
Today I was sitting in the same spot as usual on my lunch break, crying small, silent tears as I reread when Ron and Harry met on the train. I know what you’re thinking: I probably cry a lot throughout the Harry Potter series, and this is true. But this felt different. In around only 100 pages, J.K. Rowling developed Harry’s character so well that I understood just how significant finally having a friend was for him – and the same goes for the few short pages of knowing Ron.
1. They both had reputations to live up to.
Ronald has five – let that sink in, five – older brothers. The oldest Weasley, Bill, was Head Boy. Charlie was Gryffindor’s Quidditch captain. Percy is a prefect. Fred and George are the lovable class clowns that still receive good grades. What role is left for Ron to play? He has a lot to live up to, and even if he does, he won’t really be impressing anyone.
Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it’s no big deal, because they did it first” (SS, ch. 6).
Harry has recently learned of his past – as a baby, he unknowingly defeated the most famous Dark wizard of all time. As a baby! Talk about a reputation to uphold – not only does Harry not remember what happened, but also, nobody can explain how it happened, but people still expect great things from him.
2. They shared humble beginnings.
We all know that the Weasleys are no Rockefellers. With seven children and one parent working outside the home, there is never much to go around. Their needs are sufficiently met, but obviously, Ron spent parts of his childhood yearning for more (and we can’t blame him).
Harry didn’t think there was anything wrong with not being able to afford an owl. After all, he’d never had any money in his life until a month ago, and he told Ron so, all about having to wear Dudley’s old clothes and never getting proper birthday presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up” (SS, ch. 6).
Rather than having to be embarrassed about his financial situation, however, Ron felt that Harry understood where he was coming from. Harry, too, had spent his childhood in hand-me-down clothes. Harry had gone hungry on occasion. Harry had never had money. Harry wasn’t spoiled by the Dursleys by any means. And Harry was willing to offer this information to Ron, a boy he had just met, because he knew that Ron could relate too.
3. Neither Ron nor Harry had had a friend who understood them before.
From what I can tell, young wizards don’t get much social experience outside of their families before attending school. At this point, Ron had spent 11 years being overshadowed by his brothers and forgotten in favor of his sister. The closest brothers to his age were Fred and George, who understandably had an impenetrable two-person friendship. Most 11-year-olds don’t want to be best friends with their little sister either, arguably. Ron must’ve spent a long time feeling alone, companionless, and with no one to see who he really was.
‘Go on, have a pasty,’ said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten)” (SS, ch. 6).
We know that Harry himself did not have any friends – Dudley made sure of that. All of their peers were too afraid of Dudley to want anything to do with the cousin he so hated. Harry never had a single friend, not even at home. He was utterly alone before meeting Ron. Can you imagine living a childhood without friendship? This was the first time he had been able to relate to anyone and the first time that he had any inkling of a possible relationship with another human being.
4. They encourage each other.
After knowing Ron for only a short time, Harry could already tell which topics upset him. And rather than dwell on those, Harry chose to highlight something that Ron did well (even if it wasn’t entirely true). For someone who had never had a friend before, Harry sure was doing a good job at it.
‘You know, I think the ends of Scabbers’ whiskers are a bit lighter,’ said Harry, trying to take Ron’s mind off Houses” (SS, ch. 6).
We see this over and over again in the series – Ron and Harry encourage each other. They choose to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. They learn from each other and help where the other person falters. They are opposites in many ways – personality strengths, lifelong desires – but that is why their friendship is so successful and so ideal.
I am grateful for the Harrys to my Ron and the Rons to my Harry whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet. We all need someone to understand us, even the Chosen One!