Where Are You Going Essay

The persona of a psychopath appears to be much like any human. In many cases,
one would not be able to “pick them out of a crowd”. Their minds,
however, differ greatly from most. A psychopath is extremely smart and
methodical in thinking and most often is very meticulous in the way in which
he/she acts. While many people are not thinking beyond the norm, a psychopath
thinks about every breath, step, and word a person lets out into the open. In
the short story “Where are you going, Where have you been?” by Joyce
Carol Oates, the depiction of a psychopath is quite apparent. His mannerism,
thoughts and tactic all create the perfect portrayal of a truly deranged
character. Arnold Friend follows Connie from the beginning of the story. When
Connie finally notices his presence, “he [stares] at her and then his lips
widened?and there he was still watching her,” (Oates 589), revealing his
true desires and aspirations. Arnold not only wants to kill Connie, but to see
and understand every breath she takes. Although unaware of his closeness, it
becomes quite apparent that Arnold Friend is stalking Connie when he states,
“I know my Connie” (Oates 592). In Arnold’s mind, Connie is a
component of his game that he must figure out. Bringing fear to Connie’s eyes,
Arnold states, “I know your name and all about you, lots of things”
(Oates 592), truly proving his demented intentions. Recalling seeing Connie at
the drive-in the night before and had “wagged a finger and laughed,”
saying “Gonna get you, baby” in response to Connie’s smirk (Barstow
2577), divulging his true obsession with Connie. Although Arnold pursues Connie
stealthily, there are many other elements to his psychopathic mind. Arnold
Friend’s mannerisms augment his deranged intellect. When confronting Connie, his
odd behavior repeatedly reveals his abnormal feelings and emotions. Speaking to
Connie in a fast bright monotone (Oates 591), he clashes excitement and boredom,
an unusual mixture of emotions. The way in which Arnold acts in front of Connie
is far from normal. As he begins to get exasperated with Connie’s refusal to go
for a ride, Arnold begins to “[laugh] as if she had said something funny.

He slapped his thighs. He was standing in a strange way” (Oates 592),
revealing his true frustration, not only with Connie, but with himself as well.

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With fear and revelation in her eyes, “Connie let the screen door shut?He
stood there so stiffly relaxed, pretending to be relaxed,” (Oates 593), as
he realized his plan was not going as smoothly as expected. Arnold’s
apprehension reveals his undeniable derangement. The way in which Arnold acts
when confronted with another human is far from normal, divulging his truly
disturbed mentality. The most significant and unfathomable component of a
psychopath is his/her manner of thought. Arnold Friend may seem ordinary at
first glance, but his mind works far differently than most. Slowly, Arnold
devises a plan to lure Connie into the car, as she repeatedly refuses his offer
he begins to act more hostile, “as if the heat was finally getting to
him” (Oates 599). Arnold begins to get angry and allows this anger to fuel
his deranged desires. Once again, Arnold attempts to entice Connie into the car,
stating, “I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will?And
I’ll come inside you where it’s all a secret and you’ll give into me and you’ll
love me” (Oates 600), showing his true misconceptions of reality. For
Arnold, love is the victim’s trust, great enough for him to kill. The
conceptions in which Arnold believes to be reality are deranged and unfathomable
to most humans. He considers Connie’s murder a date and attempts to convince her
by saying “this place you are now-inside your daddy’s house-is nothing but
a cardboard box I can knock down any time” (Oates 603). Truly believing
each word he says, Arnold creates world in which his bemused ideas are
reasonable and justified. The mind of a psychopath vastly differs from any sane
human. With the help of a great deal of self-justification, mentally deranged
people come to believe their thoughts and actions are normal and acceptable. A
psychopath may seem normal and indistinguishable at first glance, but when
observing his/her mannerisms, thoughts, and actions, it becomes quite clear that
the person is far from normal. Joyce Carol Oates uses Arnold Friend to describe
the sentiments, conceptions, and characteristics of a psychopath (Gillis 245).

With each description of Arnold, the reader is brought deeper into his demented
intellect. Arnold Friend is only a figment of a story, as well as a part of our
society in which most people would never recognize or comprehend.

This is from the story “Where are you going, Where have you been?”
written by Joyce Carol Oates


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