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A Fiend in Disguise in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

A Fiend in Disguise in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Connie, a 15 year old in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a prideful and churlish girl who has a habit of belittling other individuals and boasting about her very good appears. At 1st, the story appears to be about a self-absorbed and sexually active smug girl who gets herself noticed by a sexual predator. Nevertheless, a closer inspection of the story, and a decryption of Arnold Friend’s name and the numbers 33, 19, and 17 reveal deeper theological and moral themes. By laying out the proof that Oates presents in her story, it becomes clear that Connie was not kidnapped by a sexual predator, but lulled away by the devil for overly committing the very same sin that got him tossed out of heaven.

According to, pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and Connie’s vanity and pride are produced apparent in the really first paragraph of the story. Connie had a habit of “Craning her neck to glance into mirrors, or checking other people’s faces to make positive her personal was all right” (Oates 664). Connie’s mom would continually reprimand Connie for starring at herself, and would urge her to be like her sister June who was continually praised by every person, but Connie would disregard her mom and believed herself to be greater than June since she knew that “she was quite and that was everything” (Oates 664). Connie even believed that her mother “preferred her to June due to the fact she was prettier” (Oates 666). Belittling and mocking other folks was one more way that Connie and her buddies would feed their pride. When somebody that amused them walked by, they would “lean together to whisper and laugh secretly (Oates 664), and when a boy that they did not like invited them more than, it made them “feel good to be capable to ignore him” (Oates 665). Connie also committed other sins such as lying to her mother, fornicating with several guys, and not going to church on Sundays. Connie admits that she lies to her mother a lot when she thinks that her “mother is so simple” (Oates 666), and that “it was perhaps cruel to fool her so much” (Oates 666). She would even lie to her mother about what she does when she goes out with her friends. While her mother believed that Connie was just hanging out at the mall with her pals and going to the movies, Connie was really meeting older guys at a drive in restaurant, going to eat with them, and then would go hang out with them in an “alley a mile or so away” from the restaurant exactly where they ate. (Oates 665). In fact, Connie had met so several boys in this way that when she would daydream about the boys she met, they all “fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face, but an thought, a feeling, mixed up with the urgent insistent pounding of the music and the humid evening air of July” (Oates 666). Lastly, Connie did not go to church on the Sunday morning that Arnold Friend showed up on her door simply because no one particular in her household “bothered with church” (Oates 666). Oates is an Atheist (Humanism and its Discontents), as a outcome, it may seem inappropriate to analyze the story by means of a theological viewpoint.

Nevertheless, the plethora of subtle religious allusions make it clear that Oates intended for the story to be read with Christian theology in thoughts. Firstly, Oates clarifies that the family is Christian by explaining that they did not bother to go to church on Sundays. Secondly, removing the letter R from the name Arnold Friend produces the words an old fiend. This suggests that Arnold Buddy is at the really least a monster or a demon if not the devil. The final and most evidently theological allusion in the story are the numbers on Arnold Pals automobile: 33, 19, and 17. As pointed out by Nick Courtrights, by counting the books of the Old Testament backwards, the 33rd book from the finish is Judges, and chapter 19 verse 17 of judges says “And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, “Whither goest thou? And whence comest thou?” This is old English for the tittle of the story “Where are you going, exactly where have you been?” By understanding that the story can be interpreted by way of a theological point of view, it can then be confirmed that Arnold Friend is the devil. The devil is quite manipulative “Now the serpent was much more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made” (The Holy Bible: New International Version, Gen. 3.1). Arnold Buddy is also very cunning and manipulative. He had a “simple lilting voice” (Oates 669), spoke in a “singsong way” (Oates 670), “his smile assured her that every little thing was fine” (Oates 669), and he began the conversation by flattering her and telling her that she is cute. When Connie found out that Arnold Friend was not as young as she first believed and tried to lock the door, he manipulated her into believing that not even iron can protect her from him by saying, “It’s just a screen door. It’s just practically nothing. I imply anybody can break through a screen door and a glass and wood and iron or something else if he wants to, anyone at all and specially Arnold Buddy. If the place lit up with a fire honey you’d come operating out into my arms” (Oates 672). He compares the residence to a cardboard box that he can “knock down at any time” (Oates 675). In this way, Arnold Pal manages to manipulate Connie into feeling helpless, specifically when he tells her that if her parents have been to come they would just end up getting hurt too. The devil is also a master of deception and disguise. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (two Cor. 11.14).

Satan shows himself as some thing appealing or eye-catching to win the self-assurance and trust of humans. The story mentions that Arnold Pal was in disguise multiple occasions. He comes dressed in the way teenage boys dressed so that Connie could relate to him and she “liked the way he dressed, which was the way they all dressed” (Oates 668). She thinks he is eye-catching because of the “hard tiny muscles of his arms and shoulder” (Oates 668), his eyes “that catch the light in an amiable way” (Oates 669), and because his face seemed familiar. Nevertheless when Connie noticed that he is not as young as he initial appeared, she began noticing other issues about him, such as how he “placed his sunglasses on prime of his head, cautiously, as if he have been certainly wearing a wig” (Oates 671), and by how it seemed to her that his “whole face was a mask” (Oates 672). Finally, Connie noticed that “one of his boots was at a strange angle, as if his foot wasn’t in it. It pointed out to the left, bent at the ankle.” (Oates 672). A lot of think that the devil has hooves for feet, and this would clarify why his “feet did not go all the way down” (Oates 673), and why the shoe would bend at such an odd angle. Arnold Buddy also seemed to know a lot of information that he need to not have known and was able to do issues that a human can't do. Since the story is primarily based in the 1960s, Arnold could not have possibly discovered out Connie’s name and the name of her pals by means of social media as that did not exist then, however he was able to name all of them, even even though Connie does not don't forget ever seeing him. He also stated, “ I know your parents and sister are gone somewhere and I know where and how long they’re going to be gone, and I know who you were with final night, and your very best friend’s name is Betty” (669). Arnold Friend knew where Connie lives, when and how extended her parents would be out, and where they went to. He was in a position to describe what Connie’s parents were carrying out from exactly where he stood as the narrator mentioned, “squinting as if he were staring all the way to town and over to Aunt Tillie’s backyard” (Oates 671). Lastly, Arnold Pal drew an X in the air, and “after his hand fell back to his side the X was nonetheless in the air, nearly visible” (Oates 670), yet another ominous sign of his correct nature.

Living a prideful and sinful life, Connie in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you going, Where have you been?” attracts the attention of what at initial seems to be a sexual predator. Nonetheless, by decrypting Arnold Friends name by removing the R, and realizing that the title of the story lies in Judges 19:17, as alluded towards with the numbers 33, 19, and 17, it becomes clear that Oates meant for the story to be interpreted by means of a theological point of view, regardless of her atheistic beliefs. This, coupled with the similarities that Arnold Buddy shares with the devil, leads to the conclusion that Connie was not kidnapped by a sexual predator, but whisked away by the devil, who committed the quite initial sin, pride, and was thrown out of heaven because of it.

Functions Cited

Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Exactly where Have You Been?” The Art of the Brief Story. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. 664-676. “What Are the Seven Deadly Sins?” N.p., n.d. Internet. 01 Could 2016. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Humanism and Its Discontents by Joyce Carol Oates.” Humanism and Its Discontents by Joyce Carol Oates. Humanist, 27 Nov. 2007. Internet. 01 May possibly 2016. Courtrights, Nick. “Where Are You Going, Exactly where Have You Been (Evaluation & Interpretation).” On the internet video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 18 June 2013. Net. 01 Could 2016 The Holy Bible: New International Version. Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica, 2011. Print.
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