Religious Initiates Essay
Arnold Friend uses Connie’s insecurities to make her come to him. First of all Arnold uses the word “Don’tcha” when asking Connie questions. If Connie answers no she seems stupid. Tt forces her to constantly agree with what Arnold is saying or asking. Connie is a normal teenage girl and is concerned about her looks. When Arnold first pulls up Connie is described as “Her heart began to pound and her fingers snatched at her hair, checking it, and she whispered, “Christ. Christ,” wondering how bad she looked“. Soon after Arnold tells her “You’re cute” (3), and even later “I don’t like them fat.
I like them the way you are, honey” (8). He is trying to boost her ego. He looks and dresses like boys she is attracted too. Connie “liked the way he was dressed, which was the way all of them dressed: tight faded jeans stuffed into black, scuffed boots, a belt that pulled his waist in and showed how lean he was, and a white pull-over shirt that was a little soiled and showed the hard small muscles of his arms and shoulders. He looked as if he probably did hard work, lifting and carrying things. Even his neck looked muscular” (5). Arnold has all the characteristics and qualities that her parents want for her to resist.
When Connie questions who Arnold is, he claims they know each other and have the same friends by listing their names “Listen: Betty Schultz and Tony Fitch and Jimmy Pettinger and Nancy Pettinger,” he said in a chant. “Raymond Stanley and Bob Hutter—” (5). He speaks as if he is singing, “He spoke in a simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song” (5) much like dangerous sirens of Greek mythology. Arnold also makes sure to have music playing that Connie likes, “Bobby King” and comments “I listen to him all the time. I think he’s great” (4).
He uses slang that was popular with Connie’s school friends last year on his car “MAN THE FLYING SAUCERS. It was an expression kids had used the year before but didn’t use this year. She looked at it for a while as if the words meant something to her that she did not yet know” (6). All these things are meant to make Connie feel comfortable and at ease with Arnold. If she is comfortable she will trust him, go for a ride with him, and he can do whatever he wants with her. Arnold Friend tries hard to lure Connie away. He romances her like a young lover complimenting how she looks, sharing her taste in music and friends.
But she still refuses and he play his last card. He states “I’m the boy for you, and like I said, you come out here nice like a lady and give me your hand, and nobody else gets hurt, I mean, your nice old bald-headed daddy and your mummy and your sister in her high heels. Because listen: why bring them in this? ” (10). It is at this point that she realizes she has no choice but to go with him. For all the annoyance, resentment, and bitterness she displays toward her family, in the end, she is willing to give up herself for them. She must go with Arnold to save her family and maybe herself.
It is through She chooses to go with Arnold because she sees that as her only alternative. Connie is initiated “into evil, and in the ending of the story they discover Connie’s capitulation to the shallow values of a debased culture” (Wesley 255). Oddly enough if she, at 15, had been as “worldly: as she would have liked – she would have been strong enough and smart enough to resist. Arnold Friend is the embodiment of evil intent. He shows himself to Connie in a way that she would feel comfortable with – as a young smooth talking boy who wants to court her. He represents the internal and external conflict that Connie has inside.
She resists his various temptations but surrenders herself in hopes of saving her family from harm. At the end of the story the reader does not know what really happens to Connie. The open ended conclusion let’s the reader reflect on their own conflicts, their own insecurities and weaknesses. And we, the audience have to wonder, if the evil in the world is going to get us too.
Dessommes, Nancy Bishop. “O’Connor’s Mrs. May and Oates’s Connie: An Unlikely Pair of Religious Initiates. ” Studies in Short Fiction 31. 3 (1994): 433+. Questia. 22 Apr. 2006 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5000248184>.
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been. ” University of San Francisco. Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page. 25 November 2005. <http://www. usfca. edu/~southerr/wgoing2. html> Wesley, Marilyn C. “Reverence, Rape, Resistance: Joyce Carol Oates and Feminist Film Theory. ” Mosaic (Winnipeg) 32. 3 (1999): 75. Questia. 22 Apr. 2006 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5001775203>. Wesley, Marilyn C. “The Transgressive Other of Joyce Carol Oates’s Recent Fiction. ” Critique 33. 4 (1992): 255-262. Questia. 22 Apr. 2006 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=95178653>.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 May 2017