In a friend or a fiend. Arnold

In Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates, Oates describes a girl, named Connie whose behavior is an anomaly to most other girls in that specific time period. Connie is a fifteen year old girl, who’s obsessed with her looks. Her sister, June is liked more than her and Connie is angry at her parents, her mother especially.

Her mother talked on the phone about both sister. “If June name was mentioned her mother’s tone was approving, and if Connie’s…

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it was disapproving.” Connie behavior is due to her mother treatment, and biased favoritism over June than her. It leads Connie to rebel and longing to be free she starts acting older than she is. Oates uses symbolic elements in the story to show the outcome and the underlying effects of Connie’s behavior. Connie goes out one day with her friends and she see “Arnold Friend” and he tells her “gonna get you baby.” The next day she sees him again at her house, where he tries to persuade her to take a ride with him. Although it is meant to protect her, Connie’s house symbolizes weakness. Arnold Friend is able to break Connie and make her leave her house by manipulating her.

Arnold Friend is more than he really seems to be. He  symbolizes a evil that threaten and manipulate Connie.  This is made apparent by the way he looks and what he is wearing, most significant his sunglasses and his boots.

They symbolizes mysteriousness, and privacy. He uses the sunglasses to hides his eyes and therefore hide his true intentions. Connie  “couldn’t decide if she liked him or if he was just a jerk.”. His glasses made it impossible to know if he was a friend or a fiend. Arnold boots also symbolizes mysteriousness because his boots did not fit him properly.

“He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing himself”. He kept stumbling around because he had hooved feet like a demon. Another symbol Oates uses is music.  Music is dominant in the story. It influenced people.

Arnold uses music to manipulate Connie easier. He talks in a “simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song”. To Connie music symbolizes tranquility. Everytime music is playing her minds wanders and she tends to be aware of anything else.


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