In Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” many critics argue whether the character of Arnold Friend, clearly the story’s antagonist, represents biblical Satan himself or a psychopathic stalker. Indeed, Arnold Friend could be an allegorical devil figure, the protagonist who lures Connie into riding off with him in his car, or, in the contrary, far more a grotesque portrait of a psychopathic killer masquerading as a teenager. However, he has all the traditional, sinister traits of that arch deceiver and source of grotesque terror, the devil, with his painted eyelashes, shaggy hair, and stuffed boots. In the story, Oates does make Arnold out to be a psychopathic stalker, but never objectively states the diabolical nature to his character. Arnold, who is posing as a teen-age boy, could certainly be the devil himself, and it is shown through words, actions, physical traits, as well as in a certain number of religious references that are interspersed throughout the story. These references help to maintain a biblical feeling, and portray his powers beyond a human level. In addition, Friend’s constant metamorphosis and cunning attitude which tends to oscillate from anger to endearment definitely show that he is a double natured individual with the supernatural powers.
In order to set the mood for Friend’s devilish personality several religious references are used. The place where Friend appears first, is a typical teenage hangout that the frequents deem as sacred or even as a safe refuge. The music in the background is playing softly like music that one hears at a church. The second place we see Friend is at Connie’s house. Connie, who does not attend church, is more vulnerable to his evil. She is a teenage girl who is always up to no good, and constantly wanting more than she has. Friend is brought into the story almost as if to carry the girl off to hell. Arnold Friend appears to be a typical teenager in the beginning of this...
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