The Theme of Friendship in Mamet’s “American Buffalo”In his ‘American Buffalo,’ Mamet renders the world of business, where selfishness and opportunism hold control over different matters and exclude friendship, as one of the noble sentiments, from their calculations. For instance, Fletch, a card player, makes a deal with Ruthie, another card player and a friend of his, to buy some of her pig iron. However, he steals her pig iron, and, consequently, they became separated. Don comments on that situation, showing the nature of business and friendship to Bob, saying: “… that’s what business is there’s business, and there’s friendship …”
Don explains, the non-existence of friendship, to Bob, saying that people are different nowadays. They became controlled by their greed and ready to give up anything so as to reach their goals. According to Don, such is a reasonable excuse for Fletch to steel Ruth’s ‘Pig iron’ and something that Bob needs to learn so as to survive in the world of business:
“There’s lotsa people on this street
They want this and they want that…
Do any thing to get it. You don’t have friends this life.”
Teach, as usual, teaches Don a lesson on business and friendship. He talks about friendship as if it were an untouchable slogan that no longer exists. He also insists on separating between friendship and business:
“We’re talking about cards. Friendship is friendship, and a wonderful thing, and I am all for it. But let’s just keep it separate.”
Though Mamet introduces Teach as a friend and associate of Don, one can hardly find any glimpse of friendship between them. This is quite manifest when they both meet or depart, they can hardly say ‘good-bye’ to each other or show their worries about each other. They end their conversation by saying: ‘okay’ or ‘see you later.’ Further more, if any kind of friendship definitely exists between them, it is only based upon profit and business. Both of the characters do not care for the feelings of each other. Even when Teach insults Don about his relation with Bob and, then, apologizes to him and to Bob, he does it so as not to let their problems have any bad impact on their work.
Therefore, the contemporary world of business in America has no place for friendship or any other noble sentiments. It is introduced by Mamet as a jungle which has no place for laws, ethics, and friendship; Teach says:
The Whole Entire World.
There Is No Law.
There Is No Right And Wrong.
There Is No Friendship.
Every Fucking Thing.