The Hidden Identity Of Arnold Friend Essay

, Research Paper The Hidden Identity of Arnold Friend The world is full of people who portray themselves as someone or something else. People usually hide their identity to obtain things that they want. It is common to be fooled by someone’s

, Research Paper

The Hidden Identity of Arnold Friend

The world is full of people who portray themselves as someone or something else. People

usually hide their identity to obtain things that they want. It is common to be fooled by someone’s

appearance. In Joyce Carol Oates’s, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” Arnold

Friend is an example of someone trying to trick another person into believing that he is something

that he is not. In the story, a girl named Connie is confronted by a man who is trying to persuade

her to “take a ride” with him in his car. She had seen this man the night before staring at her in the

drive in so she was a little scared that this man was now on her doorstep, not to mention she was

alone. He began by friendly asking to come with him, but after she denied him he became

threatening to her and her family. She runs into the house filled with fear but then finds herself not

able to call for help. She then walks back outside controlled by a strange force and going with

Arnold Friend. Arnold Friend clearly symbolizes the devil through his nonhuman physical traits,

his clairvoyant knowledge of Connie, her family, and friends, and his dominant power over her

even though she knows he is evil.

First, Arnold Friend has many nonhuman characteristics. The story describes Arnold

Friends hair by saying, “he had shaggy, shabby black hair that looked crazy as a wig” (Oates 285).

Joyce Wegs says in her essay about the story that his hair really is a wig suggesting that he could

be wearing it to cover up his horns (357). In addition, the story describes how careful he is when

putting his sun glasses on his head (289) as if he is trying not to reveal something. The story also

says, “He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing

himself ”(286), which suggests that he has hooves not feet. Obviously it would be very hard to

keep balance and walk around in boots if they were filled with hooves. It seems that everything

physical about Arnold Friend seems to be fake. Weg’s states, “even his eyelashes appear to be

made-up, but with some tarlike material ”(357). Arnold Friend has very eerie characteristics

about him that lead the reader to believe that he is covering demonic physical traits with a fake

human disposition.

Secondly, Arnold Friend knows an excessive amount of information about Connie, her

friends and family. There is no human that can stare off into the distance and know what someone

else is doing at that very instant. Arnold Friend does this very thing. When Connie tells him that

her dad will be home soon he says, “He ain’t coming. He’s at a barbeque. Aunt Tillie’s. Right now

they’re — uh — they’re drinking. Sitting Around. There’s your sister in a blue dress, huh? And

high heels”(289). He seems to have a psychic awareness of what people are doing away from him

when he is not physically there. A few people that are capable of this are the Devil and God, and

God would not be threatening a 15-year-old girl. Also, Arnold Friend seems to know a lot about

Connie. He says, “I know who you were with last night, and your best girlfriend’s name is Betty

right”(287)? The reader could argue that Arnold Friend is a stalker, but being a stalker doesn’t

explain his telepathic knowledge of what her family is doing at Aunt Tillie’s. A random stranger

is not going to know someone’s personal information, and know what other people are doing at

that instant, at different location, unless he or she is some sort of supernatural being.

Last, Arnold Friend has extreme power over Connie even though she realizes he is evil.

Wegs points out that he does start revealing to Connie his harmful plan (357) yet she still leaves

with him. She knows he is threatening her, her family, and friends but she is controlled by an

unknown source that makes her go anyway. It is human instinct to protect yourself from danger,

yet she seems to fall into some sort of mind trap that makes her do otherwise. The reader could

argue that Connie went with Arnold Friend to protect her family, but the story never mentions

that Connie is going to maintain her family’s safety. Weg’s suggests that he used black magic

when he made an “X” in the air identifying his victim (358). Arnold Friend has a mysterious

control over Connie that makes the reader believe that she is possessed by him. The story says,

“She felt her pounding heart. Her hand seemed to enclose it. She thought for the first time in her

life that it was nothing that was hers, that belonged to her, but just a pounding, living thing inside

this body that wasn’t really hers either”(293). This proves that there is something taking over her

body making her go outside to confront this satanic figure. Demons are known for possessing

people, and it seems as though Arnold Friend did bewitch Connie. There is no other logical reason

to put yourself in danger unless your mind has been altered by an outside force, in this case,

Satan.

In conclusion, Arnold Friend clearly represents Satan because of his nonhuman physical

characteristics, his psychic awareness of Connie, her family and friends, and his strong power over

her even though she knows she is in danger. Arnold Friend’s artificial physical traits and his

nonhuman features lead the reader to believe that he is trying to hide his true identity. He knows

an abundant amount of information about Connie, and he tells Connie what her family is doing at

that same moment which suggests he has nonhuman psychic abilities. Also, he has an unexplained

domination over Connie which suggests he has the power of possession. All of these things are

common characteristics of the Devil. Weg’s says, “Arnold is far more than 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” (357). Connie failed to recognize that

looks are deceiving. Arnold Friend looked “cool” therefore she trusted him at first, and

got herself into a situation that she could not escape. Arnold Friend is a prime example of the

saying, “Don’t judge a book by its color.”

Bibliography

This is on the essay “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates. It is discussing Arnold Friend’s hidden idenity as being the devil