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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Does Oates compare Arnold to the devil in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

Expert Answers

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One (of many) interpretations of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" is that Arnold Friend is, in fact, the devil.  While I see nothing to imply a comparison, it seems that Arnold may in fact be "Old Scratch" himself.  Consider what he calls himself, A. Friend.  He tells Connie that he wants to her her friend- much as the devil would.

Also, if we remove the r's from Arnold Friend, he becomes A nold Fiend= An Old Fiend.  What better name for the devil?

Then there is Ellie.  What purpose does Ellie have other than to be Arnold's familiar--such as a black cat is to a witch? Additionally, Arnold seems to know more than a mortal....consider the old woman who raised chickens that he refers to and his uncanny knowledge of the family barbecue that is taking away miles away.

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