Arnold Friend: A Dream Friend

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Joyce Carol Oates's "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" tells the story of Connie's encounter with a boy/man who introduces himself as 'Arnold Friend,' telling her "that's my real name and I'm gonna be your friend, honey." Arnold Friend talks and behaves in mysterious, even devious ways; and some readers have taken him to be a representation of the 'devil.' This paper puts forward the view that 'Arnold Friend' is a 'dream friend' in Connie's fantasy life, emerging after her chance encounter with a strange young man, who had "wagged a finger" at her and "laughed" and said, "Gonna get you, baby,"


Certain secret wishes and the guilt that accompanies them need to be reconciled. This may not be always possible in real life, but sometimes, a dream may help. In life, Connie can escape from the drab dullness of her surroundings only on her occasional evenings out with her girlfriends. Once, when she was out with one such girl, a boy named Eddie invites her out for a bite, and she goes with him, although she feels guilty at having "to leave her like that." Something inexplicable happens. On the way she notices
a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold. He stared at her and then his lips widened into a grin. Connie slit her eyes at him and turned away, but she couldn't help glancing back and there he was, still watching her. ...
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