My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante
Contributed by Eleanor Sherer
Childhood - Chapter 1-14

Elena and Lila meet when they are about six years of age and in a similar first grade class. They both live in an unpleasant, regular workers’ neighborhood in Naples, Italy, where viciousness and fights are part of daily life. Elena attentively appreciates Lila’s insubordination and obstinate bravery. She says,

She seemed the strongest of us girls, stronger than Enzo, than Alfonso, than Stefano, stronger than her brother Rino, stronger than our parents, stronger than all the adults including the teacher and the carabinieri, who could put you in jail. Although she was frail in appearance, every prohibition lost substance in her presence. She knew how to go beyond the limits without ever truly suffering the consequences. In the end, people gave in and were even, however, unwillingly, compelled to praise her (64).

Lila is also exceptionally shrewd; at just six years old, she can write and read without the help of an instructor. The reader learns that she taught herself how to read and write. Elena is jealous of Lila’s knowledge, and the attention she receives from the educator, Maestra Oliviero, yet she is still charmed by her.

As a result of the neighborhood’s small size, Elena and Lila know about the family ancestries and embarrassments of their schoolmate’s lives. Melina Cappuccio, for instance, has been acting frantically after the passing of her significant other. She is helped by Donnato Sarratore, a railroad specialist who lives in the building she rents. However, because of this assistance, she is associated with a competition and harsh argument with Sarratore’s significant other, Lidia. The lives of the children spin around, mind bogglingly with shifting loyalties and jealousies. Elena is enchanted with a young man, Nino Sarratore, the son of Donnato; an interest also shown by Alfonso Carracci. All in all, Lila isn't popular with the other schoolchildren; after a day when she crushes Enzo Scanno in a progression of scholastic tests, a group of young men start to toss rocks at her. Elena remembers feelings of repulsiveness when one of the stones strikes Lila in the head.

Don Achille is a dreaded man in the area, especially due to an on-running and savage fight with Signor Peluso, a woodworker. At the point when the young ladies are around eight years of age, Lila tosses Elena’s doll into Don Achille’s basement. Elena reacts by tossing Lila’s doll in too, and the two young ladies choose to enter the basement to recover them. In any case, they can't find the dolls in the basement, Elena finding this occasion exceptionally horrible. While she is lamenting the loss of her doll, Nino, who goes to class with Elena and Lila, tells her that he loves her and needs to marry her sometime in the future. Shocked, Elena rejects him, and afterward ponderously stays away from him. Later, Nino’s family moves out of the condo building they share with Melina Cappuccio, prompting a brutal upheaval from her. Nino’s proposal is an example of Elena and another peer, Gigliola, getting attention from young men regularly, while Lila isn't viewed as an alluring prospect.

A few months after they lose their dolls, Lila convinces Elena to go Don Achille’s apartment and request the dolls back, thinking that he must have taken them. Elena is nervous, yet she still follows Lila, embodying the hesitant trust between the two. Lila courageously blames Don Achille for having stolen their dolls, and he gives the two young ladies money to purchase new ones.


Because of the retrospectivity of the narrative, events are connected in non-linear and fragmented fashion, mirroring Elena’s recollections of her as well as Lila’s childhood and adolescence. Lila is not an attractive child, and she appears to control Elena. While Lila is naturally and intelligently keen, Elena is increasingly submissive and loyal. Elena can likewise exploit her great looks, and her capacity to control her feelings and disguise what she is truly feeling. Lila, with her increasingly unpredictable disposition, is less inclined to do so. This depiction of relationship between the two young characters is striking in its delineation of animosity, control, and battles for predominance, which is different from how children, particularly young ladies, are commonly depicted. These angles might be increased because of ensuing events coloring how Elena recollects her youth.

On the off chance that Elena and Lila’s friendship is displayed in unidealized terms, the conversation about the place in which they grew up can be significantly harsher. Generally, Naples experienced profound desperation during the period after the Second World War, and this prompted social issues too. Elena and Lila are unmistakably aware about the ‘adult universe’ of scandals, lies and viciousness, and are not shielded from it. It is additionally evident that brutality and power struggles are an essential aspect of life for the children too; continually shifting divisions, alliances and feuds shaping the way different schoolchildren cooperate with each other.

Furthermore, even as youngsters, there are worries with sentimental pairings. Particularly for the young ladies, for whom picking a sentimental partner will be a noteworthy concern as well as a priority later, one’s attractiveness is a crucial form of social advantage starting at a youthful age. In that respect, Elena really surpasses Lila, which is an uncommon inversion of their standard power dynamic.

The quotation in the summary section reveals Elena’s perception of her friend, Lila, during their childhood, highlighting both fear and admiration. A collocation is established between the physical fragility of Lila, which is stated throughout the story, as well as the power of her intellect, will, and ability for persuasion. Lila’s portrayal by Elena indicates that she envies Lila’s ability to prevent certain consequences. However, it foreshadows that her recklessness will eventually catch up to her.

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