Smooth Talk Short Story Analysis

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The Face of Evil Doesn’t Always Look the Part

The short story “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, and its adaptation Smooth Talk by Joyce Chopra both portray Arnold Friend as evil. Although he appears very differently in both texts, his intentions are the same and eventually gets Connie out of that house. In the movie, Joyce Chopra is trying to tell the audience who has read the story that evil comes in all different shapes and sizes through her casting of Treat Williams.
The feeling that the reader experiences through reading the story is more intense as opposed to watching the movie, but they are the same feelings in the moment when Arnold makes Connie hang up the phone correctly and gets her
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The way she initially approaches Arnold in the movie is somewhat flirtatious and playful whereas in the story it says “She spoke sullenly, careful to show no interest or pleasure” (Oates 902). The differences between the character Arnold Friend in the story and Treat Williams in Smooth Talk are clear in that Williams is not a bad looking guy. The story states “He placed his sunglasses on top of his head, carefully, as if indeed he was wearing a wig” (Oates 906). Also it says “He had to bend down and adjust his boots. Evidently his feet did not go all the way down; the boots must have been stuffed with something so that he would seem taller” (Oates 908). Although very different in both texts, he scares Connie and gets her out of the house and in his car. This proves the notion that evil can look very fake and indeed evil as in the story, or it can be easy on the eyes and look unthreatening. Connie is the innocent little girl that is subject to a choice. Her ability to pick out evil from good is tested and one would say that she fails miserably in both instances, although in the story she dies and in the movie she comes back and lives happily ever after. In both texts the character Arnold Friend is undoubtedly the face of evil and in both texts he has his way with Connie. Evil is everywhere

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