Arnold Friend Devil Essays

In Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” critics argue whether the character of Arnold Friend, clearly the story’s antagonist, represents Satan in the story. Indeed, Arnold Friend is an allegorical devil figure for the main reason that he tempts Connie, the protagonist, into riding off with him in his car. Oates characterizes Arnold Friend at first glance as “a boy with shaggy, black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold”(581).  She lets the reader know that Arnold is not a teenager when Connie begins to notice the features such as the painted eyelashes, his shaggy hair which looked like a wig, and his stuffed boots; these features led her to believe he was not a teenager, but in fact, much older.

Oates does make Arnold out to be a psychopathic stalker, but never objectively states the diabolical nature to his character. In “Connie’s Tambourine Man”, a critical essay on the story, the authors write about Arnold Friend: “There are indeed diabolical shades to Arnold just as Blake and Shelley could see Milton’s Satan a positive, attractive symbol of the poet, the religious embodiment of creative energy, so we should also be sensitive to Arnold’s multifaceted and creative nature”(Tierce and Crafton 608).  Mike Tierce and John Michael Crafton suggest that Arnold Friend is not a diabolical figure, but instead a religious and cultural savior. On a more realistic note, Joyce M. Wegs argues the symbolism of Arnold Friend as a Satan figure when she writes: “Arnold is far more a grotesque portrait of a psychopathic killer masquerading as a teenager; he also has all the traditional, sinister traits of that arch deceiver and source of grotesque terror, the devil”(616).

She also writes about how the author sets up the idea of a religious, diabolical figure when she links popular music and its values as Connie’s perverted version of a religion.  Another hint is Arnold’s almost supernatural, mysterious knowledge about Connie, her family and her friends(Wegs 617). The main reason why the reader would extract this diabolical symbol from reading the story is that Arnold’s character bears striking resemblance to Satan’s.  At the drive-in, Arnold is warning Connie of his coming when he was his finger at her and says “Gonna get you, baby”(Oates 581).

The majority of the story is Arnold tempting Connie to leave the safe haven that is her home and go for a ride with him in his car.  The diabolical symbolism is most visible in the following quote: “I ain’t made plans for coming in that house where I don’t belong, but just for you to come out to me, the way you should. Don’t you know who I am?”(Oates 589).   Having all the diabolical characteristics of Satan, and with his relentless temptation of Connie, Arnold Friend most certainly represents a devil figure in this short story.

Works Cited

Kiszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell, eds.  Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1997.   Oates, Joyce Carol  “Where Are You Going, Where Have You   Been?”…Kirszner and Mandell, 579-591.   Wegs, Joyce M.  “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”……Kirszner and Mandell  614-619.   Tierce, Michael and John Michael Crafton.  “Connie’s Tambourine Man”…..Kirszner and Mandell, 607-612.

In many religions, the major representation of an evil spirit, ruler of Hell, and rival of God is of course the Devil. His power to distress humans both with physical sickness and with spiritual corruption is inexplicable. However, the idea of a man with such power and knowledge has been used in stories and films alike. In Joyce Carol Oates' short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Oates depicts Arnold Friend as the Devil; we can see this through his physical description, strange seduction, and his supernatural knowledge of Connie.

The bodily features of Arnold Friend suggest he is the devil in disguise. During the whole event, Connie recognizes the way Arnold Friend "wobbled in his high boots" (196). She believed that he may have been a drunken stumbling man until she identifies "one of his boots was at a strange angle, it pointed out to the left, but at the ankle" (197).

Nevertheless, Connie continues to examine his boots, and comes to the conclusion that "his feet did not go all the way down" (197). Illustrations of the Devil propose that he walks in a bent manner; legs twisted in a bizarre way, and have feet that angle into goat hooves. A clear reference to the Devil is present in the form of Arnold Friend walking style and appearance of his boots.

Coupled with the physical features, Arnold Friend's attire implies an extra layer of his disguise. In most stories and films, the Devil is always among us, but in disguise. By dressing as a teenager, he is able to give the impression that they both are relatively the same age, and is able set a common ground with Connie. For instance, Connie enjoyed "the way he dressed, which was the way all of...

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