Do not knock on the devil’s door, for he is bound to answer. Unfortunately this is exactly what happens to Connie, the main character in the short-story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? ” written by Joyce Carol Oates. In the story, fifteen year old Connie is like any other teenage girl. She is vain, unkind to her parents, and desperate to grow up. Connie makes rebellious decisions such as sneaking across the highway to a drive-in restaurant for older kids, experimenting with sex, and lying. One Sunday, Connie decides to ditch her family at a barbeque so that she could stay home and dry her hair.
That same day, Arnold Friend rolls up Connie’s driveway in a golden jalopy with hopes of taking Connie for a ride. Connie is initially charmed by Arnold. He tells her that he is eighteen years old and wants to take her for a ride. Connie begins to realize that something is not right with Arnold and she becomes scared. As Connie refuses to go for a ride, Arnold becomes more and more aggressive. He threatens her and her family and Connie finally accepts his offer. Arnold is more than just a creepy stalker, he represents the devil through his abilities, appearance, and statements. Arnold’s abilities are supernatural and represent the devil.
Near the beginning of the story, Arnold is trying to convince Connie to go for a ride with him. Arnold accidently says Connie’s name before she ever tells it to him, which causes Connie to question how Arnold knows her. Arnold says, “I know your name and all about you” (par. 58). Arnold is highly informed about Connie’s life. This shows that he is the devil because the devil is omniscient. A bit later, Arnold is trying to help Connie remember who he is and how they have met before. Arnold drew an X in the air, and “after his hand fell back to his side the X was still in the air, almost visible” (par. 7). In the story, Connie misinterprets the sign and does not think it is important. The X’ in the air is actually an upside down cross, which signifies the devil. Arnold has a devilish supernatural ability that allows him to draw things in the air. Even after some time passes, the drawings remain visible to the naked eye. Later, Connie tries to get Arnold and Ellie to leave her alone, but Arnold insists that Connie goes for a ride with him. Arnold talks about how the day is Sunday, a perfect day to go for a ride.
While Arnold is speaking, his voice becomes like “the voice of the man on the radio” (par. 8). The ability to change voice tones is a known characteristic of the devil. Arnold’s power to change his voice proves that he is the devil. A bit later, Arnold is talking about Connie’s family and what they are doing at the party. Arnold squints “as if he were staring all the way to town and over to Aunt Tillie’s back yard” (par. 98). Arnold’s ability to see Connie’s family is a power of the devil. Arnold is miles away, yet he knows exactly what Connie’s family is doing. Like the devil, Arnold knows where everyone is and what they are doing at any given moment.
A while later in the story, Connie is trying to lock the door to keep Arnold out. In an attempt to scare Connie, Arnold says, “anybody can break through a screen door and glass and wood and iron or anything else if he need to, anybody at all, and specially Arnold Friend” (par. 117). The devil has the ability to destroy everything which is why Arnold, the devil, can easily destroy Connie’s house. No matter what Connie does, Arnold can destroy her barriers. Finally, Connie threatens to call the police, but Arnold tries to convince Connie that he will not enter the house unless she touches the phone.
The narrator states that Arnold “spoke too loudly and it was as if he were speaking to someone behind Connie” (par. 126). Arnold is not speaking to Connie, but to an angel that is behind her. Arnold, the devil, cannot walk into a house unless invited inside. In this case, Arnold is speaking to the angel that is located behind Connie. He is proclaiming to the angel that he is not disobeying the laws. The supernatural powers and abilities of Arnold prove that he is the devil. Arnold’s appearance is the same as the appearance of the devil.
When Connie first sees Arnold pull his golden convertible into her driveway, she notices that he has “shaggy, shabby black hair that looked crazy as a wig” (par. 16). The devil is often pictured with horns, and Arnold wears false hair to hide his devilish looks from Connie. Later, Arnold tries to get Connie to go for a ride with him. Connie sizes Arnold up, and notices that his nose is “long and hawklike, sniffing as if she were a treat he was going to gobble up” (par. 46). Arnold’s nose reveals the devil’s predatory nature. He treats Connie as if she is his next victim.
Shortly after, Connie recognizes that Arnold is the same man in the convertible from the diner. Arnold takes off his sunglasses, and Connie notices “how pale the skin around his eyes was, like holes that were not in shadow but instead in light. His eyes were like chips of broken glass that catch the light in an amiable way” (par. 55). Arnold’s skin is light in color, which indicates that he is the devil. The devil spends much of his time underground in the pits of hell and does not get much exposure to the sun. In addition, the eyes are often described as being windows of the soul.
Arnold’s eyes do not reflect light, so he does not have a soul. Later, Connie begins to question the age of Arnold. Arnold tells Connie that he is eighteen, but she does not believe him. He smiles at her, and “his eyes became slits” (par. 84). Here, Arnold’s face transforms to look like a snake. The devil is often associated with snakes because a serpent tricked Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Arnold’s facial features morphing into a snake proves that he is the devil. Later, Arnold continues to terrorize Connie, and she threatens to call the police.
In response, Arnold curses and smiles at nnie. She describes his face as “a mask… tanned down to his throat but then running out as if he had plastered make-up on his face but had forgotten about his throat” (par. 110). The devil is often pictured as an old man. Arnold, who is the devil, wears makeup to cover his old age from Connie. The disguise also makes Arnold appear darker in complexion. Later, Arnold loses his balance and has to adjust his boots. Connie justifies this by saying that the boots were “stuffed with something so that he would seem taller” (par. 123). The devil is often depicted as being short with hooves as feet.
Arnold, who represents the devil, covers his hooves and disguises his short body by wearing boots. The appearance of Arnold closely resembles the appearance of the devil which proves that Arnold is the devil. Lastly, Arnold’s statements coincide with the devil and the things he would say. When Arnold gets out of his car, he introduces himself to Connie. He says, “I’m Arnold Friend and that’s my real name” (par. 36). Arnold’s behavior is suspicious, and he indicates that his real name is not actually Arnold Friend.
In fact, if the letter “R” is removed from Arnold’s name, it reads “an old fiend. Later, Connie tries to get Arnold to leave her house. Arnold refuses and says, “We come out here to take you for a ride. It’s Sunday” (par. 88). Sunday is often a day set aside for the Lord. Because Connie does not have a religion, it is her day set aside for the devil, Arnold. Shortly after, Connie threatens to call the police. Arnold was not happy, and “out of the side of his mouth came a fast spat curse. But even this ‘Christ! sounded forced” (par. 110). Arnold has difficulty using the Lord’s name in vain. Much like the devil, Arnold opposes anything holy.
Later, Connie is picking up the phone and is about to call the police. Arnold retaliates and says, “Promise was not to come in unless you touch that phone, and I’ll keep that promise” (par. 126). The devil is not allowed to enter a house unless invited inside. Arnold has to lure Connie out of the house because he is not allowed to enter. Arnold, much like the devil, also lies to Connie. He makes her believe that she would be in danger if she touched the phone. Soon after, Arnold talks about what he is going to do to Connie and how she will find out what love is truly about.
Arnold says, “It’s all over for you here, so come on out” (par. 142). Arnold, once again, is trying to lure Connie out of the house. He is going to take Connie to Hell. Arnold explains that Connie’s time on Earth is done and it is time for her to move to the afterlife. Later, Arnold gains some control over Connie and makes her put the phone away. He continues to talk her into leaving the house to join him for a ride. He says to Connie that “the place where you came from ain’t there any more, and where you had in mind to go is cancelled out” (par. 51).
Arnold states that Connie’s time on Earth has expired. Because Connie is not worthy to enter into Heaven, the only thing left for her to do is follow Arnold and join him in Hell. Arnold’s statements match the devil and the things he would say. The abilities, appearance, and statements of Arnold Friend indicate that he is the devil. In the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? “, Joyce Carol Oates delivers one strong theme: do not be an easy target for the devil. The devil is bound to answer the door if one keeps knocking.