Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”: Arnold Fiend Essay, Research Paper

Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”: Arnold Fiend

In Joyce Carol Oates’ ?Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been??

critics argue whether the character of Arnold Friend, clearly the story’s

antagonist, represents Satan in the story. Indeed, Arnold Friend is an

allegorical devil figure for the main reason that he tempts Connie, the

protagonist, into riding off with him in his car.

Oates characterizes Arnold Friend at first glance as ?a boy with shaggy,

black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold?(581). She lets the reader

know that Arnold is not a teenager when Connie begins to notice the features

such as the painted eyelashes, his shaggy hair which looked like a wig, and his

stuffed boots; these features led her to believe he was not a teenager, but in

fact, much older. Oates does make Arnold out to be a psychopathic stalker, but

never objectively states the diabolical nature to his character.

In ?Connie’s Tambourine Man?, a critical essay on the story, the authors

write about Arnold Friend: ?There are indeed diabolical shades to Arnold just as

Blake and Shelley could see Milton’s Satan a positive, attractive symbol of the

poet, the religious embodiment of creative energy, so we should also be

sensitive to Arnold’s multifaceted and creative nature?(Tierce and Crafton 608).

Mike Tierce and John Michael Crafton suggest that Arnold Friend is not a

diabolical figure, but instead a religious and cultural savior.

On a more realistic note, Joyce M. Wegs argues the symbolism of Arnold

Friend as a Satan figure when she writes: ?Arnold is far more 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?(616). She also writes about how the author sets up the idea

of a religious, diabolical figure when she links popular music and its values as

Connie’s perverted version of a religion. Another hint is Arnold’s almost

supernatural, mysterious knowledge about Connie, her family and her friends(Wegs


The main reason why the reader would extract this diabolical symbol from

reading the story is that Arnold’s character bears striking resemblance to

Satan’s. At the drive-in, Arnold is warning Connie of his coming when he wags

his finger at her and says ?Gonna get you, baby?(Oates 581). The majority of

the story is Arnold tempting Connie to leave the safe haven that is her home and

go for a ride with him in his car. The diabolical symbolism is most visible in

the following quote: ?I ain’t made plans for coming in that house where I don’t

belong, but just for you to come out to me, the way you should. Don’t you know

who I am??(Oates 589).

Having all the diabolical characteristics of Satan, and with his

relentless temptation of Connie, Arnold Friend most certainly represents a devil

figure in this short story.

Works Cited

Kiszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting,

Writing. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1997.

Oates, Joyce Carol “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”…Kirszner and

Mandell, 579-591.

Wegs, Joyce M. “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”……Kirszner and Mandell 614-619.

Tierce, Michael and John Michael Crafton. “Connie’s Tambourine

Man”…..Kirszner and Mandell, 607-612.

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