Favourite ‘Loyal Best Friend’ Characters
Last week I made a post about one of the categories some of my favourite characters fall into: the ‘troubled’ characters with hearts of gold. This week, I’m taking a look at another group of favourite characters: the ‘loyal best friend’ characters. In my head, this group is called the ‘Samwise Gamgee’ characters. Looking down these two lists now, I can easily see a difference: here, you can find many of the books I loved as a child or teenager; in the former list, you can find a selection of the books I have enjoyed from my time at university onwards. Make of that what you will. So here are five of my favourite ‘Samwise Gamgee’ characters.
Favourite Loyal, Best Friend Characters:
Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings
Surprising no-one, the namesake of this category is the first character I want to mention. I truly believe that friendship is at the heart of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and there is no character that embodies this more than Sam. He is brave, honest, and loyal, accompanying Frodo right into the heart of Mordor on a quest that was never his; yet through it all, he is the most grounded and practical character. I can only dream of being as good a friend as Sam is; no wonder Frodo is glad Sam is with him ‘at the end of all things’.
Ron Weasley, Harry Potter
Whilst I always identified strongly with Hermione in Harry Potter, my favourite character in the series has always been Ron. Far from being just the comic relief, he is a wonderful character in his own right: just as brave, honest, and loyal as Sam. He stands by his friends even in the darkest times and is not too proud to admit when he has done wrong by them. And through it all, he rarely loses his sense of humour, providing a light for those around him. I loved reading as Ron grew into himself through the series, overcoming his insecurities and fighting for his family and friends.
Beth March, Little Women
So much has been written and said about Beth March, but she will always remain one of my favourite characters. Far from finding her boring or troubling, I love that her kind heart, courage, and faith shine through even in the hardest of trials. She is the quiet voice that reminds her sisters of the things that are truly important in life. One of my favourite sequences is her struggle to work up the courage to go next door to play the piano: it may seem like a small thing but it is a huge victory for her, and it is exactly that bravery in the small things that makes her a wonderful character.
Rudy Steiner, The Book Thief
Rudy is the newest addition on this particular list, but even then it’s been a few years since I first read The Book Thief. The ‘boy whose hair remained the colour of lemons forever’ quickly became my favourite character in the book; he was so different to Liesel: light-hearted, out-going, sure of himself. Yet they shared a courage and a friendship that drives part of the emotional heart of the book. Rudy has a joy to him that comes through the darkness of the world in which they live and it is endlessly endearing. I cry a lot over fictional characters, but few characters have evoked such a strong emotional reaction in me (in a train station, of all places*) as Rudy.
Piglet, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
Look, hear me out: Piglet was most likely my first encounter with this type of character, and the stories involving him were my favourites. Pooh and Piglet’s friendship provides a great model of friendship for children as they stand by each other and push each other to be brave. My absolute favourite story from these collections is ‘Piglet Does a Very Grand Thing’, in which the timid Piglet saves Pooh and Owl by doing something he is very scared to do; his fear doesn’t go away, but he pushes himself to do it anyway for the sake of his friends. It doesn’t get much braver than that.
*It was very embarrassing. There was no-one else on the platform for a while, but then a conductor came along and found me sobbing. He asked me if I was okay. I gestured to the book and managed to get out “the book I’m reading is really sad”. He looked at me as if I had grown an extra head and walked away chuckling.