Friend Or Fiend Essay, Research Paper
24 Sept., 1999
Friend or Fiend?
The persona of a psychopath appears to be much like any human. In many cases, one would not be able to “pick them out of a crowd”. Their minds, however, differ greatly from most. A psychopath is extremely smart and methodical in thinking and most often is very meticulous in the way in which he/she acts. While many people are not thinking beyond the norm, a psychopath thinks about every breath, step, and word a person lets out into the open. In the short story “Where are you going, Where have you been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, the depiction of a psychopath is quite apparent. His mannerism, thoughts and tactic all create the perfect portrayal of a truly deranged character.
Arnold Friend follows Connie from the beginning of the story. When Connie finally notices his presence, “he [stares] at her and then his lips widened?and there he was still watching her,” (Oates 589), revealing his true desires and aspirations. Arnold not only wants to kill Connie, but to see and understand every breath she takes. Although unaware of his closeness, it becomes quite apparent that Arnold Friend is stalking Connie when he states, “I know my Connie” (Oates 592). In Arnold’s mind, Connie is a component of his game that he must figure out. Bringing fear to Connie’s eyes, Arnold states, “I know your name and all about you, lots of things” (Oates 592), truly proving his demented intentions. Recalling seeing Connie at the drive-in the night before and had “wagged a finger and laughed,” saying “Gonna get you, baby” in response to Connie’s smirk (Barstow 2577), divulging his true obsession with Connie. Although Arnold pursues Connie stealthily, there are many other elements to his psychopathic mind.
Arnold Friend’s mannerisms augment his deranged intellect. When confronting Connie, his odd behavior repeatedly reveals his abnormal feelings and emotions. Speaking to Connie in a fast bright monotone (Oates 591), he clashes excitement and boredom, an unusual mixture of emotions. The way in which Arnold acts in front of Connie is far from normal. As he begins to get exasperated with Connie’s refusal to go for a ride, Arnold begins to “[laugh] as if she had said something funny. He slapped his thighs. He was standing in a strange way” (Oates 592), revealing his true frustration, not only with Connie, but with himself as well. With fear and revelation in her eyes, “Connie let the screen door shut?He stood there so stiffly relaxed, pretending to be relaxed,” (Oates 593), as he realized his plan was not going as smoothly as expected. Arnold’s apprehension reveals his undeniable derangement. The way in which Arnold acts when confronted with another human is far from normal, divulging his truly disturbed mentality.
The most significant and unfathomable component of a psychopath is his/her manner of thought. Arnold Friend may seem ordinary at first glance, but his mind works far differently than most. Slowly, Arnold devises a plan to lure Connie into the car, as she repeatedly refuses his offer he begins to act more hostile, “as if the heat was finally getting to him” (Oates 599). Arnold begins to get angry and allows this anger to fuel his deranged desires. Once again, Arnold attempts to entice Connie into the car, stating, “I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will?And I’ll come inside you where it’s all a secret and you’ll give into me and you’ll love me” (Oates 600), showing his true misconceptions of reality. For Arnold, love is the victim’s trust, great enough for him to kill. The conceptions in which Arnold believes to be reality are deranged and unfathomable to most humans. He considers Connie’s murder a date and attempts to convince her by saying “this place you are now-inside your daddy’s house-is nothing but a cardboard box I can knock down any time” (Oates 603). Truly believing each word he says, Arnold creates world in which his bemused ideas are reasonable and justified.
The mind of a psychopath vastly differs from any sane human. With the help of a great deal of self-justification, mentally deranged people come to believe their thoughts and actions are normal and acceptable. A psychopath may seem normal and indistinguishable at first glance, but when observing his/her mannerisms, thoughts, and actions, it becomes quite clear that the person is far from normal. Joyce Carol Oates uses Arnold Friend to describe the sentiments, conceptions, and characteristics of a psychopath (Gillis 245). With each description of Arnold, the reader is brought deeper into his demented intellect. Arnold Friend is only a figment of a story, as well as a part of our society in which most people would never recognize or comprehend.
This is from the story “Where are you going, Where have you
been?” written by Joyce Carol Oates