Joyce Carol Oates's "Where are you going, where have you been?

Essay by tony johnsonUniversity, Master'sB-, January 1995

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In Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are you Going, Where Have You Been", there is a clear interpretation of evil in Arnold Friend and how he as a demon tries to pull Connie into the dark world of sex and emotion. Oates seems to extract scenarios of real life and add them into her story. The character of Arnold Friend is more or less what really is out there. The harsh reality that Oates includes in her story is that there are demons like Arnold. Many people have interpreted Friend's character as the Pied Piper of Tucson who was a mass murderer who killed teens.(Hurley 372). By incorporating more life like realities in the story, Oates can construct the evil of Friend in an almost believable setting.

There are many clues in the story that hint that Arnold Friend is not a friend at all, but is in fact a demon come to take Connie away.

When we first meet Arnold Friend, it is obvious that Connie has an uneasy feeling about him and feels violated by his presence. For instance, Arnold right away starts to ask Connie if "(She) wansta come for a ride." (Oates 1012). Arnold seems to be pressuring Connie from the start and is obviously not there just to take her for a ride. The "ride" that Arnold talks of could possibly even have a sexual connotation that Connie does not pick up on because she is so young and blind to the world of sexual pleasures that Arnold lives in. Oates chooses words too carefully to show that Arnold is a devious snake. Connie sees Arnold many times as an evil character and letting the reader know by describing Arnold as a "pumpkin, except it wore sunglasses." (Oates 1013). In this passage Connie...