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Character Analysis Between Oconnors Misfit And Oates Friend English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2599 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In comparing and contrasting Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”(1955) and Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”(1966) the reader can find many similarities and differences between The Misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Arnold Friend in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”. The paper will take a look at these two characters and analyze their relationships with each stories’ main character as well as how they reflect certain aspects of religions.

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In Joyce Carol Oates’s story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” Arnold Friend’s character shows up at Connie’s place when she is all alone, with his side kick and his golden convertible. At first Arnold tries to charm this young girl into getting in his car, but Connie quickly realizes that Arnold is not the young man she thought he was. She has noticed that his hair seems like it is a wig, that he may be wearing makeup, and that he is walking strange. Arnold Friend continues to try and smooth talk Connie into going for a ride with him, but when Connie insists she is not interested Arnold becomes more aggressive. When Connie says she is going to call the cops Arnold threatens to come inside. After some more of Arnold’s smooth talk Connie reluctantly agrees to go with him and the story ends.

When comparing the two killers the one characteristic that seems to stick out the most is that they both seem to be good at what they do. In Oates’s story Arnold Friend seems to have a charm about him in the way that he talks. As we saw in the story his smooth talk seemed to interest Connie, but even when Connie declined and Arnold’s tone got more violent, Arnold still got what he wanted. Although Connie is obviously uncomfortable and very adamant on not getting into Arnold’s vehicle throughout his entire persuasion, Arnold still manages to intimidate and coax her to come with him. In O’Connor’s story The Misfit’s talents were a little less obvious. All in all when The Misfit got down to business he was very calm and even was a gentlemen, apologizing for being shirtless and separating the males and females before they were murdered.

Another statement that could be made confirming additional similarities is that both characters are religiously related to their stories. When actively reading between the lines of each story, you can detect each of the author’s subtle but still noticeable undertones that link religion in both stories. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” it said that Arnold’s shoes didn’t fit, and it look as if he had stuffed rags into his boots to make himself appear taller than his actually height. “He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing himself.” Arnold’s shoe was also described as appearing to not even have his foot inside of it. “One of his boots was at a strange angle, as if his foot wasn’t in it. It pointed to the left, bent at the ankle.” This could be interpreted that Arnold’s shoes didn’t fit because he had hooves instead of feet, referring Arnold to be the Devil as it is known that the Devil was said to have had a pair of hooves that he took extreme measures to hide. It has also been noted by previous readers who have identified religious connotations that if you were to take the “R” out of Arnold’s first name, his full name would say “An old Friend”, this being a reference to the Devil as well who is said to have been the first being to befriend Adam and Eve upon their creation (James). The assumption can be also made that Arnold is not a human being because he displays qualities that are unnatural to humans, specifically his eyes. His eyes are much brighter than any other humans’ and produce the image of his eyes glowing due to the light illuminating from behind them. “…She saw how pale the skin around his eyes was, like holes that were not in shadow but instead in light. His eyes were like chips of broken glass that catch the light in an amiable way.”

On the other hand “A Good Man is Hard to Find” had many religious inserts, but The Misfits actually compares himself directly to Jesus, stating he is like Jesus, except Jesus hadn’t committed a crime. The Misfit is not just murdering people for no reason; he seems to have spiritual or moral reasoning for his killings. The Misfit is aware of what he is doing is wrong, but thinks it’s okay because of the morals he believes in. It is brought to the attention of the reader that The Misfit is actually quite concerned with religious beliefs and Jesus after the grandmother attempts to persuade him to pray in order to find his connection with Jesus and spare the elderly woman’s life. Much to the surprise of the grandmother, although The Misfit has not ever prayed, he has thought deeply about Jesus and even states, “It was the same case with Him as with me except He hadn’t committed any crime and they could prove I had committed one because they had papers on me” meaning he feels there is much similarity between him and the Son of God. However, The Misfit then goes on to tell the grandmother in the time preceding her death about his uncertainty in believing whether Jesus ever actually raised the dead. This uncertainty really angers The Misfit, because he just wants to know what really happened. The Misfit feels that he cannot believe that Jesus raised the dead, because he was not there to witness it. After stating this disbelief, the assumption can be made that The Misfit feels that it is his responsibility to judge others and determine their fate as he does not know if Jesus has performed this judgment. He even states, “If I had been there I would of known and I wouldn’t be like I am now,” to further solidify this assumption. It appears that The Misfit blames Jesus for his actions and even punishments received for his crimes committed, causing him to judge those who are living. This is precisely what The Misfit does with the grandmother and her son’s family upon finding them after the accident. After having his two partners kill Bailey and his family, The Misfit listens to the grandmother’s suggested advice and pleas to survive. All of the grandmother’s talking though does not target this killer emotionally, and he just finally becomes irritated with her reaching his last nerve when she claims he is her “son”. The Misfit takes this opportunity to determine his final judgment of the grandmother and decides she is not worth living by shooting her three times.

It is easier to find differences between the two characters because it seemed the reason why they were doing these crimes are different. In Oates’s story, Arnold’s character seemed to be attracted to younger people, mainly directed to girls. This can be concluded because of Arnold’s efforts to make himself look like a young man. “Connie liked the way he was dressed, which was the way all of them dressed: tight faded jeans stuffed into black, scuffed boots, a belt that pulled his waist and showed how lean he was, and a white pullover shirt that was a little soiled and showed the hard small muscles of his arms and shoulders(Oates 997).” In O’Connor’s story The Misfit seemed to target certain people. When selecting his victims he seemed to choose people that he felt where going against his morals. For example, when The Misfit discovers that the grandmother is not the great “lady” she claims herself to be, it can be concluded as reason for the murders. This can be backed up by when The Misfits states “She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor 1050), suggesting that he may not have killed her if she would have acted like that when he first met the family. A major difference that was also highlighted once their religious relations were analyzed, gives the obvious conclusion that The Misfit is being compared to Jesus and Arnold Friend is being compared to the Devil. They are polar opposites.

The relationship between the killing and the victim in both stories is also an intriguing factor to both stories. The relationship between the grandmother and The Misfits stands out the most. It seems as if they are completely opposite. On one hand the grandmother thinks she is morally superior and the perfect lady. When she is not and is quick to point blame and make statements about her morals that are not true. Now when you analyze The Misfits you can see that he does follow his morals, although they may not be good morals he does sticks by them.

When analyzing the relationship between Arnold Friend and Connie it can be quickly be decided that Arnold controls this relationship. Arnold does what he does best in the story, talk. When Arnold attempts to get Connie into his car, it seems as if he knows all of her weaknesses, her appearance, and her family life. In his effort he continues to take stabs at those weaknesses. First commenting Connie on her appearance and when that doesn’t seem to work starts to pick at her family life, asking if they would save her and so on, this leading to Connie finally giving in and going with Arnold Friend. Some readers may have found this very controversial, Connie giving in and leaving with Arnold Friend, but this is a perfect example of their relationship. From the beginning of the story Connie seemed to thrive for attention and Arnold was giving her exactly what see wanted, it just took some of his smooth talking and picking at her weaknesses to get Connie to finally give in.

In conclusion, when comparing and contrasting Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” the reader can find many similarities and differences between The Misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Arnold Friend in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”. The Misfit and Arnold Friend both proved to be effective authoritative predators in persuading their victims to follow their directives which ultimately lead to their unfortunate deaths and abduction. Both characters in each of these short stories also exhibited insinuated religious implications that related them mainly to two major figures in religion, Jesus and the Devil. After analyzing The Misfit and Arnold’s relationship with their respective main characters, many differences were also noted that separated them as individual manipulators that each performed their own tasks to get what they wanted. The paper took a look at these two characters and analyzed their relationships with each stories’ main character as well as how they reflected certain aspects of religions.

Work Citied

James. “Re: Commentary on “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”” Web log comment. Notearama. 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

Oates Joyce. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” The Story and Its Writers. Ed Ann Charter Boston: St. Martin, 2011. 988-1000. Print

O’Connor Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” The Story and Its Writers. Ed Ann Charter Boston: St. Martin, 2011. 1042-1053. Print

Bryan Glaza

Eng 202

March 30, 2011

Kimalee Augustine

Writing Process

The following short essay provides the process I took to write my paper on comparing and contrasting Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” to find similarities and differences between The Misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Arnold Friend in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”.

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The first step to my writing process began with the choosing of my topic. This step was by far the easiest step in my writing process. I already knew I wanted to write about Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”, because out of the stories we have read so far this one caught my attention the most. Then when I saw the topic list and the topic comparing and contrasting The Misfit and Arnold Friend I knew this had to be my topic.

Following the first step of picking a topic, came my second step to my writing process and this being my brainstorming process. Since I felt there was a lot to be said on this topic I felt a free write was the best way to get me started.

In the third step I started to write my paper. After free writing for almost three pages I began my paper. This was done by simply revising my free write and added the required information make my paper complete.

Finally with having a complete paper I took my paper to the writer’s workshop to have it revised by others. From here I simply took my recommendations from the workshop and put the final touches on my paper.

After the completing the first paper it was time to start my writing process again. The second part of the paper was just an addition to the first part. So instead of find a new topic all that needed to be done was find some addition information on my topic and add at least two more pages to my paper.

The writing process for part two began with the revision of my first paper. First I checked for common errors like grammar and fixed those before I forgot to. Then I was time to see what was needed to add depth and length to my paper. After reading though my paper I saw that I spent most of my paper talking about Arnold Friend so this was noted. Next I saw that I could organize my paper a little better so this was also noted.

With these two ideas noted I could start researching again to find some more information. I started by trying to find more information that could be used to give me more to say about The Misfit. There was not much talk of The Misfit online so I decided to read the story again and try to focus in and find parts that had to do with religion. I did the same with Arnold Friend and to my surprise there was a lot of information on him. But this information was not very helpful; the bulk of the information was found in forums and very opinionated and did not seem believable. With this in mind I decided not to use any of this information and do as I did for The Misfit and re-read the story to try and find more information that would focus on religion.

Finally after re-reading the stories it was time to add the addition information. This was done by focusing on adding more depth to the topics that were already there and adding new thoughts into the paper. The changes that where made added about a page and a half, but because of my organization issues I stated earlier my total came to six pages instead of six and a half. Also since of most of my information had to do with comparing religion I decided it would be beneficial to change my thesis statement to include this.


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