In Joyce Carol Oates's, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", the problem of evil encapsulates the theme of the story. Oates uses an allegorical figure of evil to illustrate this theme. She also alludes to hell through the character Arnold Friend, as the devil. His victim is Connie, an average teenage girl, just realizing her beauty. Arnold Friend comes to personify the devil who Connie unintentionally invites in by committing one of his favorite sins: vanity.
Connie had a "habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people's faces to make sure her own was all right" (152). This quote shows that she is overly concerned with her looks, which makes her conceited or vain. Arnold saw this in Connie, which made her easy prey. While trying to convince Connie to go with him, Arnold says, "Not worried about your hair blowing around in the car, are you?" (158). Without doubt, this quote shows that he knows she's insecure and he's trying to use it against her.
At first glance the name Arnold Friend seems to be anything but evil. However, the narrator implies that he is Satan by giving certain clues that the reader can easily deduce. For example, the name "Friend" is a hint to the reader because if you drop the letter 'r', it reads fiend, what he really is. Another example is his first name, Arnold, because our country's biggest trader was Benedict Arnold. Also, the name "Friend" was commonly used by the Protestants to refer to evil or the devil. Moreover, Arnold's appearance also hints that he is Satan: "There were two boys in the car and now she recognizes the driver: he had shaggy, shabby black hair that looked as a crazy wig" (156). The narrator emphasizes the "wig" to make the reader think that he's wearing it for a purpose, which is to hide his devil horns.
Besides Arnold's physical appearance, which makes the reader assume that he is not a human being, Oates gives him supernatural powers. Such as, the...