Joyce Carol Oates in her piece of work entitled “Where are you Going, Where have you been”, creates a very unique character in Arnold Friend. She portrays the character of a person who is surrounded by the mystery of evil in his thoughts and deeds alike. The theme of evil dominates this piece of writing and it is illustrated in the way that Friend deals with his victims. In her work, Oates brings out the character of the devil through Oates and she portrays the scene of Hell in describing the way in which Friend deals with and treats his victim Connie. Arnold Friend is portrayed as taking the character of Satan by the narrator through the character that is brought out in his actions.
The character is created as being devilish and this is clearly implied by the narrator right from the naming of the character. In one of the encounters with Friend, Connie’s concern about the name is expressed by the narrator ‘she looked at the name, Arnold Friend. She looked at it for a while as if the words meant something to her that she did not yet know” (Oates 583). At the time, the name ‘friend’ was a common feature among the Protestants and it was used to mean the devil or something that was perceived as being evil.
The narrator further enhances the devilish character in Friend by incorporating it in his appearance; in one instance she notes that Connie encountered two boys who were in a car and once she recognizes the driver who is Arnold Friend, the description that is given is that he has “shaggy, shabby black hair that looked as a crazy wig” (Oates 583). Indeed the use of the term ‘wig’ by the author is seen as being symbolic in that a wig is purposefully worn and friend may have used it to perhaps conceal his devilish horns beneath it. Friend also wears sunglasses to cove his eyes and this gives us an indication that there might have been something in his eyes that he did not want to be seen and thus he was using the sunglasses as a cover up.
We are given and in-depth description of Friend’s victim Connie in the narrative; Oates describes a young, naïve and pretty fifteen year old girl who was still coming to terms with the aspects of life. Indeed Connie grows up in the shadows of a mother who thinks that she is too concerned about herself and does not keep her room tidy like her twenty-four year old sister who is however just plain and not pretty like Connie. Connie meets Friend in one of her outings with her friends to the movies, there she gets to spend some time with a boy named Eddie and when later they go out to his car she encounters Arnold Friend whose appearance if described as being of a devilish nature. From the description given by the narrator, Connie seems to have been instantly attracted to Friend, in fact the narrator states that they simply cannot stop staring at each other and that Connie had to turn away as friend wagged a finger at her and in laughter says that he was going to get her.
Later on when Friend introduces himself, he uses his name to stress and drive home the fact that he wanted to be Connie’s Friend just as his name suggested. The fact is that the narrator uses Friend to symbolize the devil through his actions; he seduces Connie and deceives her. Connie’s aim was to experience first love, however in her upbringing she had not been sensitized of the dangers of temptation and seduction. Arnold’s friend Ellie also seems to be his accomplice as he helps him to achieve his devilish plans and in the process of taking Connie through the torture that they take her through, we even see him pulling out a weapon. All this clearly shows that Ellie was not oblivious of what Friend intended to do but rather he knew all too well of his intentions and was a part of the planning process all through. This further enhances our perception of the evil nature and Character of Arnold Friend; he is portrayed as a person who commits premeditated murderous actions as his deeds seem to have been well planned and executed.
The fact that Friend and Ellie come to visit and pick up Connie when her parents are away on picnic further on enhances the perception of premeditation and planning as it shows the fact that they had discovered that her parent were not in and thus chosen the opportune time to carry out their deceptive plan on Connie. In the created scenario however, it is important to note that Connie is not absolutely free of blame either, she views her mother and sister as being conservative and old fashioned. Indeed the author describes her sister as being “plain and chunky and steady” (Oates 119). This clearly portrays the conflict in the ideas between the modern stylish views and old fashioned styles.
With these views and perceptions, Connie wants to alienate herself from her family and what she considers as manipulation and get the freedom to explore her own sexuality and get enjoyment and pleasure out of life. This means that she has to make her own decisions concerning what is right and wrong; she does not want to share with her parents about the boys she had met yet they might just have given her the right advice concerning how to deal with the situation. All this mean that she becomes vulnerable and susceptible to the evil works; thus, for Friend, she is an easy target. Thus it is easy to conclude that the surrounding circumstances as well as the situation in which Connie finds herself in all play a key role in enabling Arnold Friend to accomplish his evil plans and desires. The music that was being played in the vehicle enhances the seduction of Connie; its recurrence quickens her heartbeat and she is thus drawn into the deadly trap that Friend had laid down for her.
On Sunday, instead of going to church, Connie stays at home and listens to music; incidentally she and Arnold as with most of the youths and teenagers share and enjoy the same type of music and it is this interest in the same type of music that enhances and forms the basis for the development of their conversation and draws the interest of Connie. Friend therefore further reveals his evil nature by making use of music to tempt Connie and to create a sense of familiarity as well as to make it easy to create a sense of familiarity and get into Connie’s mind with ease (White 4). Friend in fact speaks in a voice that is reminiscent of music and all this enhances his efforts to seduce Connie; the art of devilish seduction is also enhanced by the color of the car which is gold in color; this color is a great tool of seduction because the shiny gold color is really an unconventional color and it easily attracts attention. It is therefore one of the easiest ways to catch the attention of a naïve young teenager.
The devilish character of Friend is enhanced as the narrator gives him even the supernatural ability to know almost everything and everybody. This is portrayed in the fact that he knew the names of Connie as well as those of her friends; he also has the knowledge of all their activities as well as the whereabouts of Connie’s parents. All this has a huge impression on Connie and makes her to follow and accept the requests that Arnold makes; it therefore reduces her resistance and any form of help that she might have called for because she is not forced to make the choice to go with Friend.
It is clear that Friend uses things that represent a devilish nature and his actions are well planned to achieve his devilish actions. He has a strange outlook, he threatens Connie with the death of her family members and uses numbers that are mythical as a set and represent a secret sexual code (White 4). The name friend also represents an aspect that is reminiscent of supernatural powers and all of this further enhances the evil nature of Friend as portrayed by the narrator. All in all the surroundings of the situations that Friend finds himself in and the things that Connie is going through with her family make it easy for him to fulfill his evil intentions.