Arnold Friend: Fact or Fiction?

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The short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, is about a 15 year old girl named Connie who is caught up in the fantasies of adulthood and sexuality. She is home alone when a mysterious man, Arnold Friend, pulls in her driveway and tries to manipulate her into going away with him. Although it is never stated explicitly, it can be seen that Arnold Friend is merely a piece of Connie’s imagination. More specifically, we see Arnold as a symbol for the Devil, whose purpose is to change the way Connie and the audience of Oates’ story views life. This is symbolic from the minor details, such as the appearance of Arnold, to more subtle details such as the content of his dialogue, and perhaps more importantly, the apparent symbolism when this story is taken into historical context of the year it was printed, 1966.

Some of the first, more deliberate clues Oates offers that reveals the fictional aspect of Arnold Friend’s character can be found in his appearance. He wore “Shaggy, shabby black hair that looked as crazy as a wig” with metallic glasses that “mirrored everything in miniature”(Oates, para 17). Also oates writes that “his whole face was a mask... as if he had plastered make-up on” and looks at Connie “sniffing as if she were a treat he was going to gobble up” (Oates, para 47). In describing the difficulty of the seemingly simple task of walking in boots: she writes, “one of his boots was at a strange angle, as if his foot wasn’t in it... bent at the ankle.... the boots must have been stuffed with something so that he would seem taller” (Oates, para 109). According to the Christian religion, it is known that the Devil is portrayed as a beast with cloven hoofs. Clearly, it would be difficult to navigate a pair of leather boots if one had cloven hooves as feet. Not only did Arnold friend find difficulties keeping his shoes on his lower extremities, but he even had trouble getting out of the car to stand and balance in a...
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