“The Real Indiana Jones” is a series that explores the man behind the fedora. Indiana Jones is many things to many people in his world, from a friend or enemy, to an esteemed professor or rival treasure hunter. As viewers of Indy’s big screen and television adventures, we have a unique perspective on the life of this hero, whose own weaknesses are often as important as his strengths.
Warning: this article includes spoilers from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
“I like to be alone,” Indiana Jones tells a German officer in the opening prologue of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. But is that true? At first, one might think that Indy is simply being obstinate to his captor. He seems to have a friend in every country in the world. Indy is never without a loyal companion on one of his adventures. How could he like to be alone?
As we’ve previously explored in this series, from a young age Indy can be quite sociable. As a boy traveling the world with his parents in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, he finds companions everywhere. There’s Meto, a young shepherd on the savannah of modern-day Kenya. Although they can’t directly communicate, Indy manages to pick up on a bit of the local language, and they form a close bond. Even without words, Indy has a way of connecting with people and forming a lasting impression.
Losing his mother to illness and lacking a healthy relationship with his father, Indy has a number of close friends who also act as mentors. From boyhood through his coming of age, perhaps none is as important as T. E. Lawrence, whom Indy knows simply as Ned. Watching his young friend grow up, Lawrence not only imparts meaningful lessons to Indy (such as the value of learning languages), but his persona as a worldly and curious adventurer is a direct inspiration to the “man in the hat” that Indy will become.
On a more subtle level, however, Ned Lawrence also appreciates Indy’s keen ability to see the good in others and in all things. During their first adventure together in Egypt, Ned self-admittedly exaggerates details about ancient mummies coming to life. When he apologizes, young Henry, rather than feeling betrayed, responds with a loyal and trusting smile.
Years later when they reunite in Paris at the Versailles Peace Conference, Indy and Ned disagree over the political situation and an argument ensues. When Indy tries to apologize, Ned insists that he is the one who should be doing so. “It’s just that I’ve become a little cynical and it doesn’t mix too well with your idealism,” he tells Indy. “[We’re all] tired and disillusioned, all except you, Henry. Now don’t change, will you? It’s what makes you such a splendid chap.”