Arnold Character Analysis

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During our usual late-night phone call to each other, one of the topics that we talked about was the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates; which I recently read for my English class. As I told you about the short story, we discussed our ideas and inclinations about the character Arnold, and how we individually perceive him. Our discussion revealed we had conflicting views on Arnold 's character. You told me that you perceive Arnold Friend to be a supernatural entity, and not of the human world. However, I disagree and think that Arnold is a rather disturbing mortal. Therefore, to help you understand why Arnold is mortal, rather than supernatural, I will give you ways that Arnolds character exemplifies…show more content…
The first example of the possibility that Arnold is drunk is given when he exits his car: “He opened the door very carefully, as if he was afraid it might fall off” (Oates 630). Initially, you said this moment when Arnold gets of his car is an indication that he is not used to cars because as a supernatural being he does not use them, and therefore does not understand how the door of a car operates. However, consider that he wants to impress Connie and does not want to make a fool of himself; if he is simply a drunk human being, then carefully opening the car door may keep him from embarrassing himself by stumbling. Further on, once Arnold is out of the car, there is another moment when Arnold appears intoxicated which is indicated by Connie’s observation: “He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing himself” (Oates 630). Why would he need to balance himself if he were a supernatural being? If he is supernatural, as you believe, he should be able to do anything that a human can and even more so. Another clue that can help point out his inebriation is when Arnold smiles towards Connie, and she notices that something is amiss with his smile: “She watched this smile come, awkward as if he were smiling from inside a mask” (Oates 634). You took Connie’s description to mean that he is literally wearing a mask to hide his grotesque and demonic…show more content…
While one may believe initially that Arnold represents a supernatural or demonic entity, everything within the short story can be rationally explained in the human realm. Honestly, I wish that I could have agreed with you that Arnold is supernatural; unfortunately, Arnold presents very human-like qualities. The idea that a human being can be as disturbing as Arnold is unbearable, but unfortunately there are human beings out in the world that possess the same traits as Arnold Friend. Hopefully, unlike Connie, we will avoid people like Arnold Friend and not give in to them, and not fall for the “vast sunlit reaches” (Oates 637). I would like to think that neither you nor I would give up our bodies or hearts to a drunk, vulgar, and threatening human being that we do not know. I hope this story also provides a life lesson that you and I never have to experience ourselves: do not trust a mortal

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