How Charity Can Harden The Heart

Zadie Smith loans money to an old friend, Christine, who disappears and then reappears. It teaches Smith a bigger lesson:

Until this episode, I’d thought of myself as a working-class girl who’d happened upon money, my essential character unchanged. But money is not neutral; it changes everything, including the ability to neutrally judge what people will or will not do for it. George Sand: “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it.” Well, it needn’t, but it does the way I do it.

I continued passively-aggressively texting in the middle-class traditionto the wrong number, it turned out. ... The first check came quickly but sat in a pile of unopened mail because these days I hire someone to do that. Then Christine did me one more charity: she forgave me.