What are the similarities between Arnold Friend in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? " and serial killer Charles Schmid?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Schmid becomes the basis for Arnold Friend in Oates' short story.  Some of the descriptions of Arnold Friend are extremely close to how Schmid actually was.  The cowboy boots and the lifts inside them to make it appear that Arnold is taller than he actually is bears a striking resemblance to Schmid.  Additionally, Oates talks about the caked up makeup of Arnold Friend, which is another physical similarity shared with Schmid.  The need to appear young and then to be accepted by younger people as a means of bolstering his own sense of identity is also another similarity that both men share.  The "Pied Piper" element of Schmid is something that Oates conveys through the golden jalopy and the use of younger people's slang.  I think that a final comparison would be the setting of the murder.  The ending of the Oates story is one where Connie is entering a realm unknown to her, yet one that is laid out in front of her.  She sees a world in front of her that is unrecognizable, but one that she understands will mark her own end.  To enter the mindset of the young woman about to die is where Oates' story is unbelievably powerful and one that might be applicable to Schmid's victim, Alleen Rowe, who died in the Arizona desert.

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