Analysis Of Joyce Carol Oates 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been'

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“ An Incarnation of evil “
Joyce Carol Oates short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” follows the story of a 15-year-old girl, in the summer of the late 1960’s named Connie; who loves to act older than she actually is. And by doing this, she attracts the wrong kind of attention, in other words, she succumbs to her own vanities and insecurities. It is clear that the portrayal of Arnold Friend represents an incarnation of evil or Satan himself, who tries to lure Connie into his world of sex, drugs, and false promises. And the harsh reality is, Oates connects the story to real life scenarios, in which young girls, or even grown women are lured and taken away, due to false promises and a good time. Arnold Friend represents an incarnation
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The story describes Arnold Friend as, “he had shaggy, shabby black hair that looked crazy as a wig.” (Oates 3) And as the story continues, “he placed his sunglasses on the top of his head, carefully, as if he was indeed wearing a wig.” (Oates 12) And when he takes off his glasses he appears to have really pale, almost translucent skin around his eyes, “then he began to smile again. She watched this smile come, awkward as if he was smiling from inside a mask.” (Oates 13) And when Connie is confronted by Arnold, her heart begins to pound hard and she feels as if she had no control over her body almost like she isn’t in control of herself. Arnold Friend physical traits and non-human characteristics leads the reader to believe that he is trying to hide his true identity. Furthermore, while reading this story, it reminded me of a verse in second Corinthians 11-14, where the apostle Paul describes Satan as an “angel of light” who can charm and give people a false sense of security and hope. And after reading this short story, it is clear that Joyce Carol Oates incorporated Arnold Friend to represent an “angel of light” who tries to charm Connie, with false promises and take her away from her unhappy teenage life. And at first glance Connie does develop an attractiveness to Arnold because of his bad boy look and care…show more content…
Ultimately, without Arnold doing any actual harm to her, his manipulation towards Connie actually works and she ends up taking a “ride.” Furthermore, I believe Joyce Carol Oates choose to name the protagonist Arnold Friend because, if we would to remove the “R” out of Arnold Friend name, then the story could change drastically from a name that sounds pleasant and safe to “An Old Fiend” something that roams the earth and collect souls, hence double entendre “angel of light”. Furthermore, Oates represents Arnold as the devil through the way he talks because of his ability to change his voice “He spoke in a simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song. His smiled assured her that everything was fine.” (Oates 9). One interpretation that I have come up with is that Ellie, the one who is fiddling with radio in the car, is controlling Arnold’s voice and trying to adjust it, to make it sound modern
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