Arnold Friend in "Where Are You Going, Where Hare You Been?"

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There are many notorious characters in literature, all with their own menacing qualities and depraved actions. None, however, have struck such a devastatingly creepy chord as Arnold Friend of Joyce Carol Oates "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Seducer of young girls and embodiment of Lucifer, Arnold Friend is anything but a friend. Arnold Friend is presented through both actions and appearances, and these combine to diminish his likeability, while adding to his devilish persona. Although Arnold Friend's traits are never stated outright, they are presented through his speech and interaction with other characters, which ultimately creates a more impacting effect and lasting impression.

Arnold Friend is the devil in human form. However, as his physical description progresses, he becomes more unreal and more caricature-like with every trait. Everything Connie, the protagonist and object of Arnold Friend's desire, sees is like something else she knows, familiar and recognizable. These traits, however, do not create a homologous character; instead it is an awkward collection of incongruities. If a trait does not appear borrowed, it appears fake or imitating. His hair is "shaggy [and] shabby . . . that looked crazy as a wig," and Connie's assertion is strengthened when he put his sunglasses on his head "as if he were indeed wearing a wig." Already Arnold Friend seems assembled, completely divergent from human characteristics. Connie describes the way he is dressed, as well as his body type, as similar to every other boy out there. With every physical detail, Arnold Friend seems more and more like the devil taking on the appearance of a typical teenage boy in order to prevent scaring young girls away. "His face was a familiar face," and "[h]is whole face was a mask . . . tanned down to his throat but then running out as if he had plastered make-up on his face and had forgotten about his throat," add to the notion that Arnold Fiend was put together, not...
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