Review: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Hunter Vernon
English 1100
Charles Radcliffe
Essay 2, draft 1

Devil in Disguise
In Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you going, where have you been?”, Oates tells the story of a young girl named Connie, who is vain, self-centered, rude to her parents, and in an incredible hurry to grow up. She has two different personalities, “one for home, and one for anywhere that was not home.” Everything about her including her smile, her laugh, and her walk transforms as soon as she steps out her front door. Connie, the protagonist of the story, wants to be a part of the world of “big kids” until a shiny golden convertible pulls up one day in her driveway and the mysterious Arnold Friend emerges. Oates uses in-depth characterization and symbolism to relate Arnold Friend to the Devil. The most obvious aspects of Arnold Friend that suggest that he is the Devil in disguise are his physical features. Oates highlights the aura of evil around Arnold Friend’s appearance by stressing how deathly pale his skin is and how his eyes look like “holes that are not in shadow but instead in light.” Also, Arnold is wearing sunglasses that conceal his eyes and it drives Connie to a degree of queasiness and all she can see is her own reflection. Arnold could be looking at anything, perhaps into her own soul. The devices that Arnold Friend uses to tempt Connie also suggest that he is the Devil. As the Devil tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden with a shiny mysterious apple, Albert tempts Connie with his shiny-painted convertible. Albert has added several decorations to his car, including Arnold’s secret code, “33-19-17”, which is apparently an advertisement for sex. Oates stresses Connie’s attraction to every aspect of the car: its beauty, delight, and mystery. Though Connie continues to reject his offer to get in the car, her interest is growing and her resistance to give in is faltering. Albert also attempts to seduce Connie through a language that Connie knows and loves well,...
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