Signs that a guy might be trouble:
- The first words out of his mouth are "Gonna get you, baby."
- He stuffs his boots so that he looks taller, even though it makes him walk like a drunken pirate.
- He has a picture of himself spray-painted on the side of his car, a picture that makes him look like a "pumpkin." (Pumpkin + smile = jack-o'-lantern.)
- He seems to be around thirty (maybe even old enough to be your father), but he tries to look like a teenager.
- You'd pity him for trying so hard, except that he's also threatening to abduct you.
- He admits to stalking you and finding out all kinds of details about you from your so-called friends.
- His idea of flirty banter is threatening your family with bodily harm.
Ah, if only Connie spent less time listening to the radio and more time reading Shmoop. (Couldn't pass up an opportunity for shameless self-promotion.)
As Connie tries to get a handle on Arnold, she realizes that:
She recognized most things about him [...] even that slippery friendly smile of his, that sleepy dreamy smile that all the boys used to get across ideas they didn't want to put into words. [...] But all these things did not come together. (77)
Arnold is a "blur," and every attempt to see him for what he really is only generates "dizziness" rather than mental clarity (94).
That's because Arnold Friend is a blend of some familiar types from literature and pop culture. He's the Matthew McConaughey character from Dazed and Confused, the guy who still hangs out at high school way after he's graduated. But he's also got qualities that a long literary tradition associates with evil – like Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost or Dostoevsky's devil in The Brothers Karamazov. (Want more devilish connotations? Take out the "r's" from "Arnold Friend" and you're left with "An old fiend.")
Like these great literary bad guys, Arnold can zero in on the weaknesses and desires of those around him – in this case, Connie's romantic fantasies. And like these incarnations of evil, Arnold's greatest tool of manipulation is a forked tongue. He's a travesty of morality, the "Friend" who isn't a friend. He keeps his promises, but his promises are all threats. Coming from his lips, the word "love" loses all of its idealistic connotations and becomes a violent and obscene thing.
No matter what Connie says or does, Arnold keeps talking – and yet he reveals nothing about himself. He never physically coerces Connie to join him, but his words have the same force and pull as the actions he only threatens to take:
"Soon as you touch the phone I don't need to keep my promise and can come inside [...] anybody can break through a screen door and glass and wood and iron or anything else if he needs to, anybody at all, and specially Arnold Friend." (116-118)
Death or evil incarnate posing as an ordinary man: this is the mess of contradictions that makes Arnold Friend so terrifying and so unforgettable.
Arnold Friend As The Devil Archetype
In literature, Archetypal Criticism is a critical approach where the reader interprets the meaning of a story by looking at the archetypal characters, events, and symbols that it contains. In general, an archetype is a universal, primordial representation of an event or character that is seen as a general blueprint for stories and myths, such as the Hero or Death and Rebirth (Meyer 1587). Archetypes can be very important in identifying and supporting a theme by giving us background and references for aspects throughout the story. Carol Joyce Oates uses a couple vital archetypes in her short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” a tale about Connie, a teenage girl, who goes through an innocence to experience situation, signifying a transition from childhood to adulthood.
Arnold Friend is an important character in Connie’s story because he is one of the main reasons she goes undergoes a change. In short, while Connie is going through a teenage phase of exploring sexuality, he comes to Connie’s house to take her with the intention of raping her. More importantly he is portrayed with some of devilish appearances and behavior, to stress the idea of the situation Connie has gotten into and the meaning of her transition. The devil archetype is seen as an evil character that embodies devil characteristics as well as tempting the protagonist with things that will ruin their soul. Thesis Statement!!!! Some evidence that Arnold Friend is the devil incarnate are the facts that he does not cross threshold, he seems to be all-knowing and he has to tempt and persuade Connie to leave with him.
First of all, throughout the story, Arnold never crosses the threshold of the house but rather stays around the porch while talking to Connie. This makes the reader wonder if he cannot cross the home’s threshold at all. Some people believe that the devil cannot pass the threshold of your home without an invitation, so it stands by reason here that since Connie did not invite him in he will not be able to do so. Arnold tells Connie that he will not come in after her but will rather wait for her to come out to him (7). He threatens her repeatedly saying, “’soon as you touch that phone I don’t need to keep my promise and can come inside (7).’” Although later she does pick up the phone, Arnold does not come inside but gets her to put it down by persuading her to do so (8). This makes it seem that he was just trying to instill fear in her so that he would not have to deal with her calling the police, if he was not really able to pass the threshold. Due to this barrier Arnold has to use other demonic tricks and deceptions to coax Connie out of the house.
In addition, Arnold Friend seems to be all-knowing when it comes to aspects of Connie’s life. Greg Laurie describes the devil as a sly, smart person, in his article “The Truth About the Devil,” and says that even though Satan does not know everything, he knows how to use what he has to lure you to him. Right...
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