Adolescence their shoulders. … I’m afraid they’ll wake

     Adolescence is the complicated stage where
you’re going through different circumstances of figuring out who you really
are. Chapter 3 “Ask Me If I Care” from Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad depicts the life of a girl as she tries
to decide between becoming an adult or enjoying being a teenager. It presents
her experiences and choices from her relationships with her friends to her
interaction with an older man which influences how she sees herself and her
surroundings in this point in her life. In Egan’s Chapter 3, Rhea’s struggle with
discovering her true self during adolescence are represented by her
interactions with Alice who symbolizes youthfulness, with Lou who symbolizes
adulthood and her admiration for Bennie that symbolizes belongingness.

bedroom and her two sisters show the simplicity of youthfulness that Rhea seems
to forget. When the group of friends lurks by
the room of Alice’s sisters, Rhea describes them as “sleeping on their sides,
covers tucked around their shoulders. … I’m afraid they’ll wake up and be
scared of us in our dog collars and safety pins and shredded T-shirts” (Egan 40).
Upon seeing and being surprised with Alice’s bedroom, Rhea focuses on the
several stuffed toys piled on her bed “which all turn out to be frogs: bright
green, light green, Day-Glo green, some with stuffed flies attached to their
tongues” (47). Just as Rhea is busy trying to think about Jocelyn and Lou, she
is suddenly pulled back into reality by the genuine laughter of Alice’s sisters
(58). Alice’s little sisters and the teenage friends
are in the same room and yet there’s so much difference from where they are standing.
The imagery of Alice’s sleeping sisters shows how when you’re a child there’s a
feeling of peacefulness and security that’s in contrast with being a teenager
when you’re just left hanging out and being awake in the middle of the night.
The innocent demeanor of the sleeping girls also provides a contrast to the group’s
punk appearance. Finding out that Alice has several stuffed frogs surprised
Rhea and it’s not just because they are not close enough to know about each
other’s interests but she seems to forget that they’re still young enough to
still be interested with stuffed animals. Also the imagery of the brightly
colored frogs in that room serves as a contrast with the nightlife that Rhea
experiences with Lou and Jocelyn. The cheerfulness of Alice’s sisters
contradicts the seriousness of Rhea, who is too focused about Lou and Jocelyn. But
in that moment, it helps Rhea remember that she should really stop worrying
about other’s lives and to focus on the present. So Alice and her younger
sisters show Rhea that it’s fine to appreciate being a child or a teenager for

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     Jocelyn and Lou’s relationship reveals the
exciting yet overwhelming parts of adulthood that Rhea desires to have but is
still uncertain of. Throughout the night hanging with Lou, Rhea describes her
surroundings as “people honking and waving from their cars like we’re all at
one gigantic party. With my thousand eyes it looks different, like I’m a
different person seeing it” (51). While they were talking, a thought pops out
on Rhea’s head: “I realize that I’m beginning my adult life right now, on this
night” (50). But then afterwards, Rhea remembers what happened with the three
of them during the concert and panics because she believes that she really might
have been involved with it (54). Rhea’s eagerness to adulthood is represented
by how or whenever she interacts with Lou and Jocelyn. The whole thrill of the
nightlife makes Rhea feel that she’s changing and maturing now. Hanging out
with Lou and seeing how Jocelyn acts with him makes her believe that this must
be how being an adult feels like. As much as she wants to be an adult, she is
still conflicted if this is what she needs right now. Her fear with what just
happened with the three of them still shows her innocence or naivety as a young
person. Despite the appeal of living like an adult right away, Rhea would still
need more time to prepare herself in becoming one.

     Rhea’s unrequited love for Bennie shows her struggle
on trying to find her place in their group and to understand herself too. Rhea declares “Jocelyn knows I’m waiting for Bennie.
But Bennie is waiting for Alice, who’s waiting for Scotty, who’s waiting for
Jocelyn” (42). After the incident with their
band, Rhea contemplates how things could have changed and that Bennie might have
finally be content with her if she just acted differently (57). During the end,
when Rhea looks at Alice, she begins to ponder: “I can’t tell if she’s actually
real, or if she’s stopped caring if she’s real or not. Or is not caring what makes a person real?” (58). As much as
Rhea enjoys the company of her friends, she still feels left out because everyone
adores someone in their group and yet no one waits for her. The difference with
Rhea and Alice is that Alice doesn’t care much about whether she is part of the
group or of Jocelyn and Rhea’s friendship as long as she will have Scotty. But
for Rhea, she always cares a lot about her relationship with others and
especially with Bennie. She cares a lot about Bennie accepting her as more than
a friend because that would mean that things will be different and that she
will really become a part of their group. By pondering this question about
being real, Rhea slowly understands that maybe not caring about others, their
perceptions of you or being a part of them is the key to really understand who
you are. Her desire to be loved by Bennie also meant knowing where she fits in
but by learning not to depend on others made her understand herself more.

     The various circumstances of hanging out with
Lou, spending time with Alice and pining over Bennie helped Rhea in her journey
to becoming an adult. She may not be immediately ready to live the kind of
adult life Lou has. But being able to understand that the present is more
important and that becoming true means accepting yourself despite other
people’s views has proved that Rhea has taken a significant step towards
maturity. The chapter conveys how becoming an adult is something that people really
learn one step at a time and continually.



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