Light in the Darkness
Friends are flashlights; they give you the hopeful light when it's dark. In Positive and in Girl in Translation, Paige and Kimberly both experience the healing effects from companions that supported them. However, Paige felt it was completely the people that saved her from the emotional pain of having HIV and Kimberly thought they supported her, but essentially she saved herself from her poverty-stricken status in America. Both exhibit heartfelt stories by comparing ideas about how true friendship consists of people who accept you for who you are and contrasting who actually drags a person out of darkness: the friends or the person themself.
Through a metaphor of a sun, Paige shows how people at Camp Kindle had inspired her to be herself. She writes how “the sun” convinces “stars” to shine their light (Rawl 270). The “sun” represents an individual with a glowing and attractive light or personality, like that of the sun which warms the planets and that of the motivating campers. The “stars”, like the sun, have their own unique character and by being “convinced”, their personality glows because of the sun. I like these campers because they bring back life into Paige after she suffers from the crippling cruelty of having HIV and Paige addresses her wholehearted gratitude towards this in her memoir. Kimberly Chang faced a similar experience with her only true friend, Annette, who looked past her Chinese background and appearance and accepted her. However, Kim felt her factory life needed to be faced by herself.
Kimberly’s personal determination lessened the idea that her friend Annette would be the one to rescue her from an adversity. After meeting Annette in Mr. Bogart's class, Kim realized no matter how much “candy, drawings, and information” she provided, Kimberly felt there was a part of [her] life that should remain hidden” (Kwok 61-62). The items display Annette’s kindness as a companion and the hidden part of Kim’s life refers to Kim’s strenuous labor workshop where she works hours on end and with little pay. Kim’s desire to hide her awful work life from her best friend reveals a sense of independence; making it on her own. I relate to this feeling of restriction, sometimes in school, when I stop myself from seeking help from others and instead figure out and grow from a problem on my own.
Paige and Kimberly agree that friends are those that encourage and embrace each other, but Kimberly feels the need to reject the support of friends in order to figure out the worst part of life on her own. This means, for Paige, allowing companions to lift the psychological hardship of HIV and hiding the worst part of life for a feeling of self-determination for Kim. Both characters serve as a reminder that how you face poor times in life is a choice: alone and strong or with friends.