The Devil in Disguise
In the short story “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, the use of the symbolism of Connie’s clothes, her fascination with her beauty, Arnold Friend’s car and Arnold Friend himself help to understand the story’s theme of evil and manipulation. The story, peppered with underlying tones of evil, finds Oates writing about 15-year-old Connie, a pretty girl who is a little too into her own attractiveness, which eventually gets her into trouble with a man named Arnold Friend. The story is full with symbolism, from the way Connie dresses to the shoes on Arnold Friend’s feet. The clever hint of symbolism throughout the story creates an exciting tale that draws the reader in. In an article by Shmoop, Oats wrote this story based on a true story from life magazine. The article was about an older man who preyed on adolescent girls, like Arnold in this story (Shmoop). This world is what she thinks she wants, until the day a shiny golden convertible pulls into her driveway and the evil, mysterious Arnold Friend emerges. Connie’s clothes and obsession with her own beauty symbolize her lack of maturity or knowing her true self, which in the end enables her to be manipulated by Arnold Friend. Connie was smitten with her own beauty; in the beginning of the story Oates states that Connie “knew she was pretty and that was everything” (626). This captivation with herself along with the constant looking in the mirrors and thinking her mother was only pestering her all the time because her mother’s own good looks were long gone by now, shows a sign of immaturity because she believes everything revolves around whether or not someone is beautiful. Connie had two sides to her, which is most personified in her clothing and the way she makes it look one way at home and a different way when she is out. Everything about her had one side for home and one side for public, from the way she walked to...
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