I debated leaving this all as a comment on Sarah’s reading questions, but I’m not entirely sure it’s coherent enough to be considered a response. Basically, when I was reading Donald Duk, I actually ignored Arnold for the most part. That is, until I got to page 101, where I absolutely could not stop laughing. (I only know the page number because I took a picture – that’s how funny I found it). This kid is so hyped up for his interest in Chinese New Year, yet here he is getting handed lai see in honor of the holiday and being told he’ll be rich (which I figure could be a reference to the literal money or, more likely, the fact that the tradition is about good luck), to which he just responds with “I am rich.” I understand that’s absolutely how a kid that age would talk, but it also stands out so much that he’s outright admitting his class status. Then we have page 132 (which, again, I took a picture of for my own amusement) where Arnold tells Donald “I’m white.” The only time the kid ever really talks about himself is to say he’s rich and he’s white, which I think is really crucial to his character and probably his purpose in the book. I imagine the shared dreams aspect between Donald and Arnold has something to do with this, because (and correct me if I’m overlooking parts of the book), the railway sections of the dreams only ever involved Chinese rail workers, the white crowds (journalists, sketch artists, etc.) and the Big Four (rich white men). The Irish rail workers were mentioned, but never brought to the forefront. Arnold is definitely more aligned with the rich white men, especially given the way his father is prided as a successful businessman, but he’s not present in the dreams as one of the exploitative rail men or the racist media men (or much at all if I remember correctly?). I believe this and the fact that he helps solidify Donald’s argument to Mr. Meanwright (with the..briefcase full of books? Do I remember that correctly? Why does that rich kid just carry a briefcase?) definitely mean something together about him being privileged but potentially learning to de-center himself. There is still a point to be made about the way he could be participating in cultural voyeurism throughout the story and the way that that impacts Donald, so I’m not entirely sure how to read him, but if anyone has any thoughts let me Know!!
“I am rich,” Arnold says. “I’m white,” Arnold Azalea says.