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In many religious beliefs, the major representation of a wicked spirit, ruler of Hell, and rival of God is of course the Devil. His power to distress human beings both with physical illness and with spiritual corruption is mysterious. However, the idea of a guy with such power and understanding has been used in stories and films alike. In Joyce Carol Oates’ short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Oates depicts Arnold Pal as the Devil; we can see this through his physical description, strange seduction, and his supernatural understanding of Connie.
The bodily features of Arnold Pal recommend he is the devil in disguise. Throughout the entire event, Connie acknowledges the method Arnold Pal “wobbled in his high boots” (196 ). She believed that he might have been an inebriated stumbling man till she recognizes “one of his boots was at a strange angle, it pointed out to the left, but at the ankle” (197 ). Nonetheless, Connie continues to examine his boots, and concerns the conclusion that “his feet did not go all the method down” (197 ).
Illustrations of the Devil propose that he strolls in a bent way; legs twisted in a strange method, and have feet that angle into goat hooves. A clear recommendation to the Devil exists in the form of Arnold Buddy strolling style and appearance of his boots.
Coupled with the physical functions, Arnold Friend’s attire suggests an additional layer of his disguise. In a lot of stories and movies, the Devil is always among us, but in camouflage.
By dressing as a teen, he is able to offer the impression that they both are reasonably the very same age, and is able set a typical ground with Connie. For circumstances, Connie took pleasure in “the way he dressed, which was the way all of them dressed: tight faded jeans stuffed into black, scuffed boots, a belt pulled his waist and revealed how lean he was” (193 ). Arnold Buddy uses this seek to gain Connie’s assurance of him. However, Connie appears to neglect it due to the fact that he appears to look a lot like a common young boy.
Equally important is the use of Arnold Friend’s mysterious sunglasses to conceal his identity. The metallic glasses only give off a mirror-like image, but in miniature which Connie felt uncomfortable with “because the glasses made it impossible for her to see just what this boy was looking at” (192). He could have been staring at her figure, behind her, or straight into her spirit. The eyes that were masked behind the glasses were “pale, like holes that were not in black but instead of light” as if he were always wearing his glasses to hide his identity (193). In most stories of the Devil, the use of clothing and accessories to conceal his true identity is used; the same is true in Oates’ story.
Also depicted in stories and films of the Devil, he often uses items of desire against the characters to lure his victims into doing as he pleases. Arnold Friend uses his brightly painted open jalopy as a tool to tempt Connie into going for a ride with him. Connie finds some humor in the written messages, but especially the “DONE BY A CRAZY WOMAN” on the rear fender (192). In fact, she finds every part of his jalopy attractive: its hilarity, its splendor, and its deep mysteriousness. However, the same idea is true with the story of Adam and Eve. The Devil, which is disguised as a snake, used the desire of fruit to persuade Eve to defy God’s wishes.
In fact, if the Devil is going to catch the attention of his victims, he must first speak in a familiar nature to gain their confidence. Arnold Friend uses Connie’s language, which is radio, to sway her assurance. He continues speaking “in a simple lifting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song,” a way that she can connect with (193). Shortly after, he begins to adopt “the voice of the man of the radio,” it becomes clear that she begins to recognize to tone of his voice (195). Thus, communication through Connie’s language brings more association between her and Arnold Friend.
As a result of gaining his victim’s confidence, the Devil must then flatter them, telling them exactly what they want to hear. Arnold Friend attempts to flatter Connie explaining “I took a special interest in you, such a pretty girl” then reassures her with a smile (193). During, Connie emphasizes how much everyone prefers her sister June over her by stating “If June’s name was mentioned her mother’s tone was approving, and if Connie’s name was mentioned it was disapproving” (191). Arnold Friend hints he wants nothing to do with her sister, “that poor bitch-nothing like you, sweetheart!”, and in a way that is precisely what Connie wants to hear (195). In any case, inquiring that he prefers Connie over her sister or any girl for that manner, Arnold Friend maintains the conversation with her and continues to sway her in his favor.
In addition to the Devil’s bag of tricks, he often knows all there is to know regarding his prey, and his supernatural knowledge begins to tie everything together. Arnold Friend definitely seems to possess such powers, and begins to tell Connie he knows her “name and all about you, lots of things” (193). He starts to specifically describe how her family is “drinking, sitting around” at the barbecue (195). Yet, the way he goes about revealing it to her seems bizarre.
For example, he instigates Connie with the idea that he can visualize by “squinting as if he were staring all the way to town and over to Aunt Tillie’s back yard” (195). In fact, he begins to illustrate “there is your sister in the blue dress, and high heels”, and “your mother’s helping some fat woman with the corn” (195). For this reason, Arnold Friend appears to be a deranged individual, who follows and stalks his subjects, but Oates gives the impression of a great projection of Satan.
All things considered, Oates’ use of Arnold Friend to represent the Devil and preserve an illustration of evil. The shocking tale of a young girl taken away to hell, but not by a man she knows yet by a man who came from no where. This seems like a tale that could be far from reality, but the Devil will for eternity come from hell to collect his souls when life slips into presence of sin.
McMahan, Elizabeth, Robert Funk, and Susan X. Day. Literature and the Writing Process. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall PTR, 2006. 188-99.
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