Sunday, July 11, 2010

duty of friendship

"I'd like to ask you something," Hazel said.


"Well, this ain't none of it true. It's a kind of a--a whatchamacallit--"

"Hypothetical question?"

"I guess so."

"S'pose there's a guy and he's in trouble."


"Well, he can't get out of it. But he got a friend maybe he don't know about."

"That's you," said the seer.

"No it ain't! It's some other guy. I forget his name." He hurried on. "Well, s'pose the guy's in trouble and there's one way he can get out but he can't do it. You think his friend ought to do it?"


"Even if it hurt like hell?"


"Even if it might maybe not work?"

"Certainly. I don't know what the situation is with your Doc, but I know how it should be with you. If you love him you must do anything to help him--anything. Even kill him to save him incurable pain. This is the highest and most terrible duty of friendship. I gather what you must do is violent. You must first make sure it can be successful, and you must, second, make sure within yourself that you know you will be punished. It is quite possible that even if you are successful your friend will never speak to you again. That takes a lot of love--maybe the greatest love. Make sure you love him that much."

Hazel caught his breath, "Hell, there ain't no such guy. It's hypa--it's malarky, a kind of riddle."

"I guess you do love him that much," the seer said.

John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday

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