Joyce Carol Oates


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English 101


³Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been²
In Joyce Carol Oates¹ ³Where Are you Going, Where Have You Been², 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 Friend¹s 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 ³(She) wansta come for a ride.² (Oates 1012). Arnold seems to be pressuring Connie from the start and is obviously not there just to take her for a ride. The ³ride² 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 ³pumpkin, except it wore sunglasses.² (Oates 1013). In this passage Connie relates Arnold to a Halloween figure and in the same quote refers to Arnold as ³it². At other times Oates describes Arnold¹s eyes as evil. ³He grinned so broadly his
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eyes became slits and she saw how thick the lashes were, thick and black as if painted with a black tar-like material.² (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 ³People don¹t talk like that, you¹re crazy,² (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 Connie¹s friends and where her family is at which scares Connie into asking Arnold how he knows so much and his only response is, ³I know everybody.² (Oates 1014). The omniscient capabilities that Arnold shows are just more justifications of his being a demon, or the devil himself. Arnold not only knows what is going on in the world around Connie, but also what she is thinking and how she is as a person. Arnold knows that Connie is unhappy with her parents in general and taps into this sensitive spot with Connie as a way to bring her outside and go with him. He felt that if he could draw Connie outside it would have to be with sex , for Arnold knows that this is what intrigues the young girl.
The most obvious reason that many believe Oates is portraying Arnold as a demon is the way Arnold must use trickery and blackmail to lure the innocent Connie out of her home and into his clutches. When Connie says she will call the police to restrain Arnold, he then becomes irate and says he will enter the house and says, ³You won¹t want that.² (Oates 1018). This