SOURCE ANNA KARENINA
- ,and they were fond of one another as friends who have come together in early youth often are, in spite of the difference in their characters and tastes.
What is the purpose of "are" in this text?
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(the way) early youth often are
is just a statement about the state of society at that time. It is only used as a reference to the main dialog.
It might make more sense written this way:
they were fond of one another as friends who have come together in the way that early youth often are
where are means the way they act.