Arnold Friend is the devil in human form. However, as his physical description progresses, he becomes more unreal and more caricature-like with every trait. Everything Connie, the protagonist and object of Arnold Friend's desire, sees is like something else she knows, familiar and recognizable. These traits, however, do not create a homologous character; instead it is an awkward collection of incongruities. If a trait does not appear borrowed, it appears fake or imitating. His hair is "shaggy [and] shabby . . . that looked crazy as a wig," and Connie's assertion is strengthened when he put his sunglasses on his head "as if he were indeed wearing a wig." Already Arnold Friend seems assembled, completely divergent from human characteristics. Connie describes the way he is dressed, as well as his body type, as similar to every other boy out there. With every physical detail, Arnold Friend seems more and more like the devil taking on the appearance of a typical teenage boy in order to prevent scaring young girls away. "His face was a familiar...
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...is the prey. Arnold Friend never has any thoughts, only outward appearances and words.
Arnold Friend imposes a devilish and menacing pressure upon Connie, who ultimate gives in, like a maiden entranced by a vampire's gaze. His appearance, sayings, and doing all combine to form a terrifying character that seems both reasonable and unlikely at the same time. There are people like Arnold Friend out there, not as incoherently assembled, and still he seems an extraordinary case of stalker. A small and even insignificant aside about his name, Arnold Friend, is that with the R's his name would read A'nold F'iend, or "An Old Fiend" i.e. the devil. But, regardless, Arnold Friend is very precisely portrayed as a corrupter of youths and a deflowerer of virgins. Without his useless sweet-nothings or his strange balance problem, he would come across less dangerous and alluring.
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Arnold Friend Symbolizes the Devil in Where are you Going, Where Have you been? by Joyce Carol Oates
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