Stephen's best friend at the university, Cranly also acts as a kind of nonreligious confessor for Stephen. In long, late-night talks, Stephen tells Cranly everything, just as he used to tell the priests everything during his days of religious fervor. While Cranly is a good friend to Stephen, he does not understand Stephen's need for absolute freedom. Indeed, to Cranly, leaving behind all the trappings of society would be terribly lonely. It is this difference that separates the true artist, Stephen, from the artist's friend, Cranly. In that sense, Cranly represents the nongenius, a young man who is not called to greatness as Stephen is, and who therefore does not have to make the same sacrifices.