American Literature: The Play Friends

The play Friends by Abe Kobo narrates the story about a family that invaded in a stranger’s house claiming to be his friends. They believed that it was wrong to have a solitude lifestyle, so the family pressured the stranger to socialize and even imprisoned him when he refused the proposal. They thought such measures would improve his mind, but this eventually killed him. The following essay discusses the message that the play communicates, the Man’s attitude before and after intermission, as well as the principles of the two parties.

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The opening scene gives the background information and introduces the community as well as the lifestyle of the city. The song in this scene reflects the loneliness of people within the community and demonstrates the spirit of disintegration through the symbol of a broken necklace. People are scattered everywhere, like little lost beads, ignoring the source that once gave them warmth. Besides, the writer expresses his concern that everyone has lost the sense of the significance of a family. A middle-aged girl, one of the characters of the play, said, “We’ll gather those poor little beads.” Everybody in the family agreed that they have the responsibility and the capability to collect the beads and make a new string. Thus, the first scene sets the tone of the play by emphasizing that it is high time people started reuniting.

As for the Man, he felt quite satisfied being an individual and thought he could live without anyone. Before the intermission, he felt that he was strong enough as a person and could have whatever he wanted. The man was sure that he was leading the best kind of life since he could afford an apartment, had a good job, and was engaged. He was not concerned much about his neighborhood, which was especially obvious from the episode when he could not even direct the police to his apartment. When giving directions to the police, the Man just said, “It is hard to explain.” Finally, he gave a superintendent a number to direct her to his apartment. When the superintended was making an appeal about her innocence in involving herself with any corrupt dead related to the unwanted guests, she confirmed that the Man did not know much about the people.

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After the intermission, the Man felt as if he was not living his life: he was deprived of freedom, and his privacy was completely invaded. The Man could not get the least help he needed because even the police officers could not identify his dilemma. In fact, the intruders managed to convince the entire community as well as the only person that was close to him of the miserable life he was leading. The smiling gestures and the cunning tactics of the intruders evidenced that they meant no harm. The Man tried to prove that the eight family members were against him, but he could not show any evidence of violence and thus the police had doubts about his accusation. When the Man realized that even his fiancée was influenced, he started to acknowledge that there was more to life than what he was experiencing. After the intermission, he started to broaden his mind and developed a desire to know what the world offer. While being in captivity, the Man realized that the world continues to move even in his absence.

However, his feeling about living as a loner did not change as he thought of the ability to run his life without people. The Man strongly resisted the company of the intruding family and constantly built plans of how he could escape and start his life afresh. However, his daily routine restricted him because he could not quit his job. What is more, the Man’s mind was also limited by the thoughts of the ways to earn a living and even being caged, he was thinking of his job. The middle daughter tried to help the Man understand that the world did not stop existing without his presence. She told him that he was suffering and his condition was not improving even after their invasion. The girl said, “Your sickness has not improved. Listening to your heart, I hear it flying far away thinking of the commuter’s train, office desk, and company building in the street.” The man retaliated which was a sign of agreement that he had not changed his perception of life.

The play described several steps in which the Man was socialized. Throughout this process, the strangers thought that the Man would change his way of thinking and embrace socialism, but it never happened. The family employed the principle of unity and selflessness. Their argument was based on the fact that humans are social beings that are supposed to consider others. They upheld ethical principles when setting the rule that whoever uses abusive language should pay a substantive amount of money as a fine. The family members understood that people have to respect one another. When a person is offended, he or she should be able to control the temper to avoid any actions that can possibly cause regrets. The family strictly adhered to the rules even when it was against their interests. They believed in worthiness of neglecting personal rights in the name of the society reunion.

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The Man, on the other hand, believed in the principle of enjoying personal rights even when it hurt others. For instance, he rudely treated a grandmother for invading in his desk. Furthermore, he called the police, consulted the lawyers, and defended himself strongly before his fiancée, when he learned that she had received some information from the third party that might affect their relationship. When the middle daughter suggested escaping, the Man willingly accepted the offer without considering that it was a set up to see if he had embraced the idea of socializing.

Towards the end of the play, the Man was imprisoned having confessed that he was contemplating of escaping. From the family’s perspective, the captivity was a way to improve the frames of his mind, but the Man thought this would bind him completely. He could not bear the pain of denied freedom, and not being able to handle the forcefully imposed changes, the Man eventually died.

The family members perceived his death differently. The middle daughter mourned him because she felt he was a sweet man, but the problem was that he could not accept them. She had fallen in love with him and was hoping that he would change soon. The younger son felt that they had lost nothing, because the family had already received his retirement pay thus increasing the family wealth. The father also felt that the deceased was a good man and could not understand why he had such a bad fate. He wished the Man had opened his eyes to see how big but complicated the world is. The other members of the family were not eager to move to the next assignment and did not have the time to mourn his death. The father therefore, had to comfort the middle daughter as he led her to the other family members.

In conclusion, the play Friends in general and its elements in particular highlight the way people tend to disregard socialization. The symbol of the beads of the broken necklace signifies this tendency as well. The family intruded in the Man’s life with good intentions of showing him the necessity of socializing and providing him an alternative perspective of a good life. However, their attempts did not result in success, but on the contrary led to the Man’s death.

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