Arnold Friend Character Analysis Essay

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English 21011 James Friend Spells ‘Sociopath’ The persona of a sociopath appears to be much like any human. In many cases, one would not be able to “pick him out of a crowd. ” Their minds, however, differ greatly from the average mind. A sociopath is extremely smart and methodical and most often is very meticulous in the way in which he acts. While many people are not thinking beyond the norm, a psychopath thinks about his every breath, step, and word.

In the short story “Where are you going, Where have you been? ” by Joyce Carol Oates, the depiction of a sociopath is apparent. Arnold’s mannerism, thoughts and tactics create the perfect portrayal of a truly sociopathic 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 widen…and there he [is] still watching her,” revealing his true desires and aspirations.

Arnold not only wants to kill Connie, but to see and understand every breath she takes. Although she is unaware of his closeness, it becomes obvious that Arnold Friend is stalking Connie. When he states, “I know my Connie”, it is clear that in Arnold’s mind, Connie is a component of his game that he must understand. Bringing fear to Connie’s eyes, Arnold states, “I know your name and all about you, lots of things,” truly proving the breadth of his knowledge and his demented intentions.

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Recalling seeing Connie at the drive-in the night before, “wagging a finger and laughing,” and saying “gonna get you, baby” in response to Connie’s smirk, he reveals his true obsession with Connie. Although Arnold pursues Connie stealthily, there are many other elements of his behavior that testify to his sociopathic mind. Arnold Friend’s mannerisms augment his sociopathic intellect. When confronting Connie, his odd behavior and charming personality seem to point toward a strategy to trick her by giving into his game; a game of fear and control that sociopaths love to play.

He tries different tactics like naming off her friends to familiarize with Connie and make himself seem approachable, but also speaks of matters that make Connie alarmed, such as the knowledge of intricate details about her family. Perseveringly, he presses on and continues making her uncomfortable and afraid, entertaining himself with her refusal to go for a ride. Like a typical sociopathic, he enjoys the control he deploys over Connie, and the intimidation he strikes in her by threatening “to keep his promise and come inside. Eventually, she even comes outside, “hollow with what had been fear but what was now just an emptiness,” succumbing to Arnold’s mental trickery. His hunger for manipulation and his slyness divulge his sociopathic tendencies. All of these things may not be that apparent at first glance, but beneath his charismatic self lies a dark, disturbed persona. The most significant and profound component of a sociopath is his manner of thought; the lack of conscience, no feelings of guilt or remorse, no concern for those around him and a complete detachment from humane attributes.

Also, they have the power of blending in the crowd, and concealing themselves from others due to lack of transparency and inability for society to distinguish those sociopathic traits. Arnold Friend may seem ordinary, but his mind works differently from others. He is likely to think unconventionally and act eccentrically to reach his victims. Slowly, Arnold devises a plan to lure Connie into the car, and as she repeatedly refuses his offer he becomes more demanding, “as if the heat [is] finally getting to him. He behaves in both a charming and aggressive manner, purposely attempting to throw her off. 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”, but at the same time he acts this way just to drive Connie a little crazy and frighten her with the “supposed” misconceptions of reality he has about them being lovers.

He is willing to do anything to get to her, his target victim, and without the limitations of a conscience or guilt. Arnold actions display the nature of a cold hearted sociopath. The mind of a sociopath 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 sociopath may seem normal and indistinguishable at first glance, but when closely observing his mannerisms, thoughts, and actions, it becomes clear that the person is far from normal. Joyce Carol Oates uses Arnold Friend to describe the sentiments, conceptions, and characteristics of a sociopath. With each description of Arnold, the reader is brought deeper into his demented intellect. Arnold Friend is only a character in a story, but he is also a part of our society in which most people would never recognize or comprehend.

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