Friday Fives: Pen Pals

The question for this week’s Friday Fives from Paper Hangover is: Who are your FIVE favorite literary sidekicks? Since I am probably forgetting some, and I’m sure when I read other people’s responses I’ll say “Oh yes, him!” or “Oh yes, her!” let’s stick with five of my favorites–not necessarily my top five favorites (though they might be right now as I think about it):

Dr. John H. Watson, Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick. He’s a medical doctor, so clever in his own right and able to appreciate Holmes’s deductive reasoning. But he doesn’t share Holmes’s skill and depth of knowledge, so he can admire and learn from him. He is often useful to Holmes for chasing leads, bouncing ideas, and giving an emotional perspective to a situation that Holmes often fails to grasp. Perhaps just as important, he’s always there to celebrate success, something that happens often.

Prince Aleksander, from the LEVIATHAN series. Since the LEVIATHAN series really tells the story of both Deryn Sharp and Prince Aleksander, they share equal billing. However, as I think back over the books, it seems to me that Alek probably spends more time helping Deryn than vice versa. They come from different countries with different perspectives (Darwinist vs. Clanker), and yet they manage to look beyond their differences to help each other. At first it’s for mutual benefit (parts to repair the airship for safe harbor), but it’s not long before the desire to help is based on their growing friendship. This character development is one of the things I like about this series.

Samwise Gamgee, from THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Where would Frodo be without Sam? He’s with Frodo every step of the way, encouraging him, challenging him, putting his life in peril, and never giving up or losing faith in Frodo. Sam is exactly the kind of sidekick you need when you’re on a life-or-death quest to destroy the Ring and bring peace to Middle Earth.

Hermione Granger, from HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE. Yes, I’m being book-specific. The reason for this is because out of the trio, Hermione was not the obvious sidekick from the beginning. Ron and Harry hit it off from day one in the train carriage. But Hermione was the whiny know-it-all that no-one liked. The fact that Harry and Ron showed enough compassion to rescue her from the troll speaks well of them, but the fact that Hermione, from that point on, was willing to risk her life–and even break school rules for them–shows how much she valued their friendship. Of course, her encyclopedic knowledge and reasoning skills became critical to Harry’s success in the end. He started off not being able to stand the sight of her; by the end, he realized he couldn’t have done without her.

Jeeves, from the Jeeves and Wooster books by P. G. Wodehouse. Jeeves is Bertie Wooster’s butler, or personal valet, but his service to his master often exceeds serving him tea and washing his clothes. While he is clearly Wooster’s intellectual superior, he is loyal to his master, and always willing to help him out of the complicated messes Wooster gets himself into. What makes him interesting is that his aloof character sometimes comes across as dispassionate, as if he cares a lot less about Bertie than his service to him would lead you to believe. On occasion, Bertie believes Jeeves to have betrayed him, when in fact Jeeves is working in his interests the whole time. I like the contrast between the clever and unflappable Jeeves, and his excitable and often dim-witted master, especially given their respective social roles.

Who are some of your favorite literary sidekicks? Let me know in the comments, or join the blogging fun over at Paper Hangover (when the Friday Fives article is posted, anyway).

6 thoughts on “Friday Fives: Pen Pals

  1. Jaime

    Those are some great sidekicks. For the Harry Potter series, I kind of want to say Neville (as a sort of lesser sidekick). He was helpful on more than one occasion too. Sam Gamgee is the ultimate sidekick, hands down. I don’t think it’s possible to find anyone better in the role of sidekick 🙂

    Not sure if I’ll be doing this one today, it’s making my head hurt just trying to think of five sidekicks. We’ll have to see 🙂

    1. cds Post author

      You’re right about Neville–for someone as inept as he’s portrayed, he’s actually one of the strongest characters in the series. You always know where you stand with Neville: fiercely team Griffindor and team Harry. The whole thing about being prepared to stand up to your friends in Book One was excellent, and an important point to make.

  2. E.Maree

    Still no sign of the Paper Hangover blog, how odd. Hopefully nothing bad’s happened to the bloggers.

    I really need to read Leviathan (and Divergent. And the Night Circus. And *points to everything else you’ve recommended* ;P).

    What’re your thoughts on book-Hermione versus movie-Hermione? I love Emma Watson, but after reading articles pointing out how much of a glamor icon my dear frizzy-haired buck-toothed bookworm has become I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy about where they went with her character.

    1. cds Post author

      Ooo… interesting question. My daughter was commenting just the other day how she thought the movie Hermione (MH) started to stray from the book Hermione (BH) from about the third movie. And I have to admit, I think she has a point. In many regards Emma Watson was a great choice for the role, and was almost perfect in the first movie. I expected some kind of dental anomaly, and was surprised when there was nothing wrong with her teeth–even by American standards! This seems like a small point, but I think part of the point of her character is to show that there are far more important things in life than looking pretty, a point which MH undermines.

      So, yes–I would share your unease.


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