A sidekick is the Boo-Boo to your Yogi, the Pokey to your Gumby, and the Samwise to your Frodo. Seriously, what would Frozen be without Olaf the Snowman?
Let’s break down the similarities between Harry Potter’s sidekick, Ron Weasley, and Katniss Everdeen’s sidekick, Rue.
Specifically, we’ll cover the introduction of the sidekick and evolution of trust in Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
And yes, I am omitting Twilight from today’s post, because Bella doesn’t have a clear sidekick through her journey, and I think her likability suffers for it. Please stifle your applause. (kidding)
1. The sidekick timidly meets the hero early on the journey.
This introduction occurs soon after the hero enters the “Awful-Awesome” land, and is initiated by the sidekick.
- Ron sits next to Harry on the train to Hogwarts. “The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest redheaded boy came in. ‘Anyone sitting there?’ he asked, pointing at the seat opposite Harry.” (HP Ch.6).
- Rue follows Katniss and Peeta around. “On the second day, while we’re taking a shot at spear throwing, he whispers to me. “I think we have a shadow.” (HG Ch.7).
2. The sidekick sticks out from the crowd.
Even though the sidekick’s looks do not match the majority, he shares common traits with a different group.
- Ron, like all the Weasleys, has red hair and freckles. “He was tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose.” (HP Ch.6).
- Rue, like everyone from District 11, has darker skin. “She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin . . .” (HG Ch.7).
3. The sidekick is one of many kids from a poor family.
The hero and the sidekick connect because they are both poor, but unlike the hero, the sidekick has an abundance of family members.
- Ron explains: “I’m the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I’ve got a lot to live up to.” (HP Ch.6).
- Katniss explains: “And I come to know Rue, the oldest of six kids, fiercely protective of her siblings, who gives her rations to the younger ones . . .” (HG Ch.16).
4. The hero is interested in the sidekick’s background.
The sidekick grew up in a completely different world than the hero. As part of their budding friendship, the two characters ask questions about the other one’s home life.
- “’Are all your family wizards?’ asked Harry, who found Ron just as interesting as Ron found him. ‘Er — yes, I think so,’ said Ron. ‘I think Mum’s got a second cousin who’s an accountant, but we never talk about him.’” (HP Ch.6).
- “’Not during harvest. Everyone works then,’ says Rue. It’s interesting, hearing about her life. We have so little communication with anyone outside our district.” (HG Ch.15).
5. The sidekick accepts food from the hero.
When the hero shares food with the sidekick, it solidifies their friendship.
- “’Go on, have a pasty,’ said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with.” (HP Ch.6).
- “’Oh,’ says Rue with a sigh. ‘I’ve never had a whole leg to myself before.’ I’ll bet she hasn’t. I’ll bet meat hardly ever comes her way. ‘Take the other,’ I say.” (HG Ch.15).
6. The sidekick and the hero fall asleep near each other.
In a sign of complete trust, the two new friends sleep in the same location. This especially works well because most young readers can connect to the fun of a sleepover.
- Harry and Ron sleep in the Gryffindor dormitory. “Too tired to talk much, they pulled on their pajamas and fell into bed. ‘Great food, isn’t it?’ Ron muttered to Harry through the hangings. . . . Harry was going to ask Ron if he’d had any of the treacle tart, but he fell asleep almost at once.” (HP Ch.7).
- “Rue has decided to trust me wholeheartedly. I know this because as soon as the anthem finishes she snuggles up against me and falls asleep.” (HG Ch.16).
7. The hero receives a gift from the sidekick’s home.
The hero has been looking for a second form of family, and in the sidekick he has found it. This is clear when the sidekick’s family treats the hero as one of their own.
- “’I think I know who that one’s from,’” said Ron, turning a bit pink and pointing to a very lumpy parcel. ‘My mum. I told her you didn’t expect any presents and — oh, no,’ he groaned, ‘she’s made you a Weasley sweater.'” (HP Ch.12).
- “I cautiously lift the still warm loaf. . . . A district gift to a tribute who’s not your own. I lift my face and step into the last falling rays of sunlight. ‘My thanks to the people of District Eleven,’ I say.” (HG Ch.18).
So that’s how the sidekick is introduced in a bestselling YA adventure story. The goal is to quickly build trust and allow the friendship to grow, thus making your hero a little more human.
Next time we will look at how the sidekick aids the hero throughout the journey.
I’ll wait until that post to create the index card for the master outline.
In the meantime . . .
Who’s your favorite sidekick?