illustration of a young girl, Connie, reflected in the sunglasses of a man, Arnold Friend

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Is Arnold Friend a static character in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

Quick answer:

Yes, Arnold friend is a static character, because he has evil plans for Connie from the moment he sees her and carries through with those plans, never deviating from his sinister intentions.

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Arnold Friend is a static character because he has evil intentions toward Connie from the moment he sees her and follows through with those plans.

Arnold Friend first spots Connie at the drive-in restaurant where lots of teenagers hang out. As she agrees to eat burgers with Eddie, she notices another boy with shaggy black hair watching her, his lips parted in a grin. He wags his finger at Connie and says, "Gonna get you, baby," but Connie doesn't think anything of the incident.

It is this same "boy" in the "convertible jalopy painted gold" who drives up to Connie's house when he knows that her family isn't home. Arnold Friend has an eerie ability to predict human behavior and to know things in a way that suggests that some dark supernatural force guides his behavior. When he asks Connie to go for a ride with him, she declines, saying that she has things to do. Arnold Friend dismisses her objections:

"Connie, you ain't telling the truth. This is your day set aside for a ride with me and you know it," he said, still laughing. The way he straightened and recovered from his fit of laughing showed that it had been all fake.

"How do you know what my name is?" she said suspiciously.

This is the first real indication that Connie is in serious trouble. Arnold Friend discloses that he has come specifically for Connie and that she is expected to leave with him, one way or another.

Arnold insists that Connie will leave with him, indicating that she is his "lover" and that she doesn't yet know what that is but that he will teach her. He also reveals that her family, who is at a barbeque, won't be coming to save her. Desperate, Connie finally threatens to call the police, but Arnold Friend swears that he will harm her family if she does.

Connie chooses to face certain death by leaving with Arnold Friend rather than inflicting harm upon her family. As he takes her away, Arnold Friend provides one final glimpse into the life of the family Connie is leaving behind:

Now come out through the kitchen to me, honey, and let's see a smile, try it, you're a brave, sweet little girl and now they're eating corn and hot dogs cooked to bursting over an outdoor fire, and they don't know one thing about you and never did.

Arnold Friend, who is the embodiment of evil, calls Connie his "sweet little blue-eyed girl" as he leads her away from her home, his evil plans for her coming to fruition.

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