The character of Bobby really baffles me in the beginning. The idea that two divorced people could still be civil and friends after the fact is just strange, different even, from what I know. Bobby is tied to the three characters in very different ways, but ways that make it hard for him to leave. Bobby’s relationship with Arlene is that of a former lover and husband, now turned friend. Even though Bobby says that he is not jealous of her and Russell, he is. He wishes that he had a family; even if it were not really a conventional one, he wants one nonetheless. The fact that he is still good friends with Arlene suggests that he has attachment issues, or rather that he has a hard time letting go. He harbors anger against her, and sometimes it comes out in spurts, like in the beginning of the story, like on page fifty-six when he tells her that he ought to slap her. Russell says that he actually sees Bobby’s muscles tighten as though he were really going to hit her. But this kind of outburst isn’t the only one. When you combine them, it makes you wonder if his temper is part of the reason that Arlene divorced him. After all, she said it was what was best for her.
Bobby is connected to Russell by way of understandment. They were both divorced men who knew what kind of process that was. The only difference between them was that Russell was able to move on with his life (his and his daughter’s) and start a new relationship, while Bobby seems to be stuck on Arlene. And Bobby is jealous of Russell’s life, his family really. Bobby seems to really like Cherry, Russell’s daughter and Arlene’s kind of stepchild. Cherry sees Russell as a playmate and doesn’t understand much of what is going on with him. She is the only character whom Bobby doesn’t seem to get angry with, and he keeps his calm when she tells him that he can’t go to school with her but has to go to jail. Instead, he lashes out at Arlene, like the whole thing is her fault.
I thought that this story was about the need for human contact — the safety of it, the saving qualities, the fear of being alone and the knowledge of how to let go.