Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Devil in Disguise

This is my second time reading "Where Are They Going, Where Have They Been" and it's just as unsettling as the first time. Connie is only fifteen, she's young and vibrant, full of life and wonder. She craves experience and independence and this is her vulnerability. She's a tragic hero, making the sacrifice to face her ultimate demise, because she knows walking out that screen door will lead to nothing good, she understands she will never be coming home again, she'll never see her family again (Oates, 3134). It's heart breaking experiencing Connie's plight for the second time, her bravery at only fifteen, to put down the phone and to walk to that car. I can't imagine the terror of a moment like that, when she realized there was really no choice anymore and that her family was in danger if she didn't comply. I read this and after reading the presentation can completely see who the innoscence and naivety of the maiden completely relates to Connie's character and how Arnold Friend can be compared to the Devil or Death. His name itself is a ruse, a false sense of security because with such a friendly name how could he be a bad guy. But everything about him was a trap, I hate to reference Twilight but for those that have seen the movies or read the books there is the part where Edward describes why he's so bad, the fact that everything about him is designed to draw in his prey. His looks, the way he dresses, the smoothness of his voice, and well his sparkly skin and how once he has them he's physical capabilities surpass anyone that would stand against him. That's Arnold Friend, at least at first and from a distance but once you get too close you see the sharp jaws and you realize it's too late and he's got you. I read this first on my own years ago and I remember just being in awe and confused and upset because it just ends but I think it does that because after such a scenario plays out nothing can be most terrifying than the places you go in your imagination as to what happens next.

Is it Connie's fault that this happened or was it inevitable and out of her hands? Was Connie's family really in danger? Why couldn't she call the cops and pretend to put the phone back down? Does leaving the story at the moment Connie surrenders an adequate ending or should Oates have told her audience the totality of her fate? 


  1. I really enjoyed your post. You captured the essence of the story completely I thought. I think Oates leaving the ending vague was exactly like you said because the readers imagination will create more terror than she ever could with a written ending.

  2. I love this post. You're absolutely right about Twilight though, as much as it also pains me to bring it up here ;) but the best predators are the ones who don't seem like they are at all. I definitely don't think it's Connie's fault, I just wish she had stayed in the house and pretended she wasn't home, if he'd made any indication he'd try to get in, she could have called the police then (and gotten a knife for safe keeping). Again though, I don't fault her for it; she was 15, it's like blaming Dolores in Lolita for what happened to her (at 12). I think the story is gruesome enough without spelling out what happens to her later.