'Friendship is a slippery notion'; discuss in relation to Hart's development.
'Friendship is a slippery notion', Hart's character throughout the novel illustrates this point very clearly. His three main friendships can be distinguished, that with Mitsy, Jamie and Derby. These friendships all show a different perspective of Hart's personality. These friendships develop and change as the novel progresses through this the impact on Harts character can be identified. Hart shares a very complex and intimate friendship with Mitsy. At the beginning we see their friendship as very much innocent however as the novel progresses, Hart is faced with several events which alter his life; for example, the war, which consequently changes his friendship with Mitsy. Hart and Jamie have a friendship based highly on convenience. Their friendship quickly deteriorates due to changes in perspective, for example Hart begins to become increasingly suspicious regarding Jamie's relationship with Mitsy, this is a major issue in their friendship.
Hart's friendship with Derby is much more stable, Hart possesses an amount of admiration for Derby.
Mitsy was Japanese and lived in China town. She was Alice's best friend, which led to her and Hart also developing a friendship. Hart and Mitsy's friendship was a continuum of ups and downs as a result of their circumstances. Hart was in love with Mitsy from the start although this love was initially not spoken directly of. In the cinema in Sheba Lane both Mitsy and Hart would sit together with their shoulders and knees touching. This was their private way of acknowledging their feelings for each other. Hart says "I fell in love with Mitsy in the darkness of the tin walled cinema in Sheba LaneÃ¢ÂÂ¦" As the novel progresses several events occur in both Hart and Mitsy's lives, which influence their relationship. The first event was the loss of Mitsy's father Zeke and the consequential damage to Harts leg after the accident on the luggers. This event leaves both Hart and Mitsy emotionally scarred. As a result of Harts injury, he becomes very reclusive and self-pitying. It reaffirmed his low self-confidence and self esteem, as he was much less mobile. Mitsy also retracts more into the Japanese community; she spends a lot of time with her mother and suffers immensely from the impacts of the war and her father's death. This situation distances their relationship. The second major event concerned Jamie's relationship with Mitsy. Hart became very suspicious of the two of them, which caused rifts. Hart wanted to have Mitsy exclusively to himself. Hart even began to follow Mitsy to see if she was meeting Jamie; "I followed them to the beach, to parkland, to shadowy lanesÃ¢ÂÂ¦" It shows the lack of trust Hart had in Mitsy. The final and perhaps most significant event which changed both Hart and Mitsy's relationship and Hart himself, was the war against Japan. Mitsy's origins had previously posed little problem for Hart. We see as the war situation intensifies that Hart is affected by the hatred and prejudice placed upon the Japanese. For example when Alice goes missing, Hart becomes irrational, "I felt a spurt of burning tears, and said to Mitsy "You bitch". He blames Mitsy for being Japanese. This shows the major change in Hart as he becomes more and more influenced by his situation.
Hart also befriends Jamie. Their friendship was in many ways doomed from the start. Jamie always has an edge over Hart; he has a very competitive nature, which Hart cannot match up to. Initially Jamie holds a lot of power over Hart. He is successfully a threat to him concerning his relationship with Mitsy. Hart is greatly affected by this and eventually confronts Jamie. Hart's physical disability is also an issue. He is envious of Jamie who joins the army and is able to serve his country as a man, "I looked at Jamie Killian, so healthy and vital in his uniform, and realised the future offered me nothingÃ¢ÂÂ¦" This is a principal cause of Hart's low self-esteem. By the end of the novel however, it is Hart who holds the power. Jamie was in the harbour after it had been bombed. He could have burned to death but it was in Hart's hands to rescue him. Hart initially hesitated but did save him. We see here the deterioration of their friendship; it had been disfigured and became over powered by Hart's personal insecurities and problems.
Harts friendship with Derby was balanced and stable. He held respect and admiration for Derby even though he was Aboriginal. Derby was a kind of counter balance. It was also a way Hart felt proud as it was his father who defended Derby when he was accused of molestering a young girl. It was also through Derby that Hart gained some appreciation, "You bin good peoplesÃ¢ÂÂ¦. You bin good to this old blackfella." So we can see through these three people that Hart's friendships greatly changed throughout the novel as a result in changes in himself and his situation. His friendship with Mitsy was often lost and regained, indicating that 'friendship is a slippery notion'. At the end of the novel we see that Hart and Mitsy share a very distant friendship and Hart still has doubts as to whether when Mitsy returns from the interment camp they will be able to regain their friendship, "We may not make it". Jamie dies at the end of the novel, just a few days before the end of the war. Hart was scared by his hesitation to save Jamie from the harbour and that incident was the final stage in their friendship. Hart had seen a side of himself that he didn't know existed. Hart and Derby are separated but their friendship remains unchanged. We can see from these points, the influence of external factors, for example war, on Harts development and the effects this has on his friendships.