Joyce Carol Oates's "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

1165 words - 5 pages

In Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are you Going, Where Have You Been", there is a clear interpretation of evil in Arnold Friend and how he as a demon tries to pull Connie into the dark world of sex and emotion. Oates seems to extract scenarios of real life and add them into her story. The character of Arnold Friend is more or less what really is out there. The harsh reality that Oates includes in her story is that there are demons like Arnold. Many people have interpreted Friend's character as the Pied Piper of Tucson who was a mass murderer who killed teens.(Hurley 372). By incorporating more life like realities in the story, Oates can construct the evil of Friend in an almost believable setting.There are many clues in the story that hint that Arnold Friend is not a friend at all, but is in fact a demon come to take Connie away. When we first meet Arnold Friend, it is obvious that Connie has an uneasy feeling about him and feels violated by his presence. For instance, Arnold right away starts to ask Connie if "(She) wansta come for a ride." (Oates 1012). Arnold seems to be pressuring Connie from the start and is obviously not there just to take her for a ride. The "ride" that Arnold talks of could possibly even have a sexual connotation that Connie does not pick up on because she is so young and blind to the world of sexual pleasures that Arnold lives in. Oates chooses words too carefully to show that Arnold is a devious snake. Connie sees Arnold many times as an evil character and letting the reader know by describing Arnold as a "pumpkin, except it wore sunglasses." (Oates 1013). In this passage Connie relates Arnold to a Halloween figure and in the same quote refers to Arnold as "it". At other times Oates describes Arnold's eyes as evil. "He grinned so broadly his2eyes became slits and she saw how thick the lashes were, thick and black as if painted with a black tar-like material." (Oates 1015). It is apparent that Oates uses descriptions such as these to illustrate an unhuman quality in a human form. Another interesting word choice that Oates uses is when Arnold is talking perversely to Connie and she comes back with "People don't talk like that, you're crazy," (Oates 1017). This helps to illustrate the fact that Connie does not recognize Arnold as human. The reader may feel that Arnold is just a pushy jerk with a crush on Connie, at least up to this point. It is not until Connie begins to get upset and threaten to call the police that the reader sees the true demonic side of Arnold Friend.Arnold Friend knows too much about everything and everyone to only be a person especially one who is not from around the same area as Connie. Arnold claims to know all of Connie's friends and where her family is at which scares Connie into asking Arnold how he knows so much and his only response is, "I know everybody." (Oates 1014). The omniscient capabilities that Arnold shows are just more justifications of his being a demon, or the devil himself. Arnold not...

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