Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been? Essay

In the story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” Joyce Oates portrays Connie as a beautiful young woman that is being coerced by a man, whom she doesn’t know, to come outside and go for a ride in his car. Who is this man that calls himself Arnold Friend? What does he represent? Looking at the things that Arnold Friend says and does will help to discover who he is. Oates equips Friend with many characteristics that make him appear to be the devil, such as his deceiving appearance, and his extreme desire to do evil things to Connie.

Arnold does a great job of covering up the evil inside of him by having a very handsome and clean appearance, possessing a fantastic personality, and overall, he portrays himself to be someone that Connie might be interested in. He says things like, “you’re cute” (294) and “be nice honey” (298) to try to make himself seem harmless. His appearance seems to be working as, “Connie liked the way he was 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” (295).

By reading some of the Bible, I understand that there are a lot of times that the devil comes in many deceiving forms that often go undetected. In the story, it specifically says, “His whole face was a mask, she thought wildly, tanned down to his throat but then running out as if he had plastered makeup on his face but had forgotten about his throat” (298). This shows that she is looking at a man in a disguise. The devil wants people to be willing to do evil things. He does not want to have to force people.

He gets much more pleasures out of seeing people do bad things on their own. In the Bible, the devil is portrayed as having hoofed feet. In the story, it says “he almost fell. But, like a clever drunken man, he managed to catch his balance” (298). This is just another sign that Arnold Friend is the devil. Connie is really worried about her outside appearance and what other people think about her. Being who she was, she didn’t want Arnold Friend to think badly of her. Her mind was very weak, so it was very easy to convince her to do anything that Friend wanted her to do.

Not to mention, Satan is known for preying on the weak minded people of this world. For just a little bit more evidence, I looked up what the numbers 33, 19, and 17 stood for that were on the side of Arnold’s car and what I came up with was pretty surprising. This might refer to Judges 19:17 out of the Bible. The number 33 indicates that Judges is the 33rd book from the end of the Old Testament. The verse states, “When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, ‘where are you going?

Where did you come from? ’” In the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” it is extremely convincing that Arnold Friend exhibits many characteristics of the devil. His actions and words are a cover up of the plethora of evil that is lurking inside of him.

Works Cited

Oates, Joyce. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? ” Literature and the Writing Process. By Elizabeth McMahan, Susan Day, and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. 290-302. Print.