Me and Rise were friends because we had done a lot of things together and we liked each other. Me and C.J. weren't really all that tight, but we were cool with each other. (1.75)
Do you think that Jesse and C.J.'s friendship has changed by the end of the novel? If so, how? If not, why not? What does this reveal about the hole Rise leaves in Jesse's life?
When Rise got into his junior year and got hooked up into taking SATs and thinking about college, we didn't hang out as much as we used to. Then he started getting into trouble in school. (1.72)
To Jesse, it seems like Rise changed overnight. But when he says things like this, we understand that the change was probably more gradual than Jesse realizes.
He was more than just my best friend—he was really like a brother. (1.64)
While the Jesse and Rise we read about have a strained relationship, we know that there was a time when they were practically family. Heck, the word "brother" is even in the title.
"Jesse is your dog, man," Calvin said. "Is he tripping?"
"I don't know, man," I said.
"I thought you were tight with him," Calvin said.
"I thought so too," I said. (2.52-2.55)
The first meeting of the Counts—when Rise is in disagreement with everyone else—is the first sign that something is really wrong. The other guys look to Jesse for explanation, but he has no idea what's going on.
On the way home I was thinking about C.J. and how easy it was to hang out with him. […] When we were together, there was never any tension between us.
That used to be the way it was with me and Rise. (3.23-3.24)
Things aren't so easy with Rise anymore. Lately, it seems like every time he and Jesse hang out, Jesse just feels annoyed. Rise has changed and Jesse just doesn't like him the way he used to.
"This means a lot to me," Rise said, "these pictures." (8.31)
Why do you think Jesse's work on Rise's story means so much to Rise? Is it about their friendship, or does Rise just like seeing himself on the page?
"Yeah, well, one day we were blood brothers," Rise said. "Now you sounding like brothers ain't brothers and blood ain't blood." (8.47)
Rise really wishes that Jesse would be more supportive of his quest to become a drug lord. Sure, Rise, that's what friendship is all about—supporting your friends as they run their lives.
I was looking to make things right again, to get back to what I was comfortable with. That was the old Rise and the old hanging out. (15.12)
Increasingly, Jesse is realizing that the old Rise is gone. He comes to understand that he can't fix this situation for Rise; Rise has to want to fix it himself. All Jesse can do is hope Rise wants to at some point.
Thinking about Tania led me into thinking about C.J. He and Tania were the ones I wanted to be with. C.J. because he was easy and we had the art thing going on, and Tania because she was a girl. (21.1)
Another thing Jesse learns over the course of the novel is that friends are the people you choose to surround yourself with—and Rise just isn't one of those people anymore. It's hard to let go of him, though.
I wasn't angry with Rise, although something told me I should be. But I didn't understand him anymore. (22.5)
At the end of the day, Jesse doesn't have the energy to feel mad at Rise. He just sort of gives up with no hard feelings. If Rise didn't die, this might have made reconciliation easier down the road some day.