The Friend: A Novel Themes & Motifs

Sigrid Nunez
This Study Guide consists of approximately 44 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Friend.
This section contains 2,678 words
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The Persistence of Grief

Throughout the novel, the unnamed narrator struggles with the persistent grief she feels at “you’s” suicide. The first thing the narrator relates to the reader is an anecdote about women in Cambodia, who “[cry] [themselves] blind” in reaction to the horrors of war they have witnessed (1). This anecdote not only demonstrates the persistence of grief through time, for these women cry long after the war has actually past, but also the persistence of grief in its effect. These women are not only affected emotionally by grief; they are also affected physically, literally going blind. In this way, Nunez sets the stage for her novel by forcing the reader to confront the persistent and all-encompassing power of grief, implying the narrator’s experience with grief will be of a similar caliber.

The unnamed narrator indeed experiences a profound and persistent grief at “you...

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This section contains 2,678 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Friend: A Novel  Study Guide
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