A book can’t be judge by its cover, just like a character. Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” begins with an innocent family vacation ending in a tragic deaths after taking a detour. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates features a typical teenage girl who begs for attention from males and meets her match at the end. The Misfit and Arnold Friend’s characteristics make them frightening in many ways. The appearance of a character says a lot about who they are. The way the Misfit is introduce in the story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is scary.
A family has an accident and they are lying helplessly on the ground. He sees the accident occur and approaches the family. O’Connor writes “It came to a stop just over them and for some minutes, the driver looked down with a steady expressionless gaze to where they were sitting, and didn’t speak. Then he turned his head and muttered something to the other two and they got out”. On a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere, just had an accident and three men come riding up, seems a little specious and terrifying.
The Misfit has two other men with him and they all get out of the car slowly and stare at the family. O’Connor describes the Misfit, “His hair was just beginning to gray and he wore silver-rimmed spectacles that gave him a scholarly look. He had a long creased face and didn’t have on any shirt or undershirt. He had on blue jeans that were too tight for him and was holding a black hat and a gun”. Holding a gun while getting out of “big black battered hearse-like automobile”, says O’Connor describing the car, is a little ironic. Normally they irony of an event occurring is the creepy part.
The Misfit isn’t the only one with a gun but, O’Connor says, “The two boys also had guns”. What makes them threatening is not what they have on but the guns that they are carrying. Under most circumstances the antagonist of a story always has a “sidekick”, which adds to the factor of making the antagonist seem daunting. Arnold Friend’s character in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is much more complex. He disguises himself as a eighteen year old boy, “Tight faded jeans stuffed into black, scuffed boots, a belt that pulled his waist in and showed how lean he was, nd a white pull-over shit that was a little soiled and showed the hard muscles of his arms and shoulders” (Oates 621). That is a creepy thing to do, going through all the trouble to catch the eye of a victim. The tactics Arnold use makes him disturbing like his car as bait and Ellie. Arnold’s car has his name on the side of it and all the different sayings that the teenagers used during that time. The car was bait and if he catches a female looking at it he would trap them. Ellie is Arnold’s who stays in the car the whole time with the radio playing.
This is a distraction while talking to Connie. He is a stalker, he knows where she lives because he randomly shows up at her house. Next, he knows her name and she doesn’t even tell him. When Arnold says, Connie you ain’t telling the truth” (Oates). Connie knows she never revile her name. Connie also knows she never says anything about where her family is or what they are doing, but Arnold Friend knows that information too. How creepy can a character be, playing a fake role of an eighteen year old boy, and stalking a fifteen year old girl?
The way a character speaks defines who they are. The Misfit is the antagonist of the story but he is a polite character. The first words Misfit say, “Good afternoon, I see you all had a little spill” (O’Connor). Why would a killer say Good afternoon and asking questions instead of just killing the family. He says yes ma’am and no ma’am when he is talking to the Grandmother. The Misfit doesn’t tell the family what to do but he asks them, “Would you mind stepping back in them woods there with them” (O’Connor)? Normally, killers are demanding and quick.
They take what they want and kill off what is no longer needed, which most of time the characters. As the Misfit is killing off the family he takes his time, he talks about his past and what type of person he use to be and is now. His politeness gives a whole appearance of being a murder a twist. To pull it all together, the Misfit is kind and respectful. He puts on a shirt in front of the ladies. Then says, Hep that lady up Hiram, and Bobby Lee you hold onto that little girl’s hand” (O’Connor). What killer would do all these nice things before he brutally murders them.
The fact that the Misfit is a gentleman and not disrespectful when he speaks is what is horrifying and mind-boggling to readers. Soft spoken words of love being whisper into an innocent ear, that’s Arnold’s way of being frightening. His strange appearance adds to the threatening quality of his calm and gentle voice as he tries to convince Connie to come outside. Arnold says, “Yes, I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will” (Oates). Arnold is saying this to an adolescent, who thinks she wants to be in love but has no idea what she is getting into.
Connie proves her innocents when she tells Arnold to “Shut up! You’re crazy” (Oates)! Connie can’t handle how Arnold speaks to her in the “romantic” way that he does. Their scare Connie because it is not what he says to her but how he says it. Any mystery to Arnold quickly fades as he begins to make threats and demands. When he claims to know things about her family and neighbors that he couldn’t possibly know, that makes Connie question who he really is. As she begins to ask his voice changes from calm to hash, forceful, and demanding.
The way he speaks to Connie is what makes him the dreadful character that Arnold is. The Antagonist isn’t really a villain unless there are victims and crimes being committed. The Misfit and the two other men commit murder. Hiram and Bobby Lee kill the family and the Misfit kills the Grandmother. The Misfit lives by a moral code that involves murder and remorselessness. The way he kills her is so savage like. O’Conner describes, “The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them”.
The Misfit is heartless because he murdered an old woman and didn’t show any remorse or regret. Misfit, Hiram, and Bobby Lee leaves the scene and go about like it is a normal day. The Misfit somewhat destroys the Grandmother mentally before she dies because he makes her question her religion. As the Misfit gives his view on religion, the Grandmother mumbles, “Maybe He didn’t raise the dead” (O’Connor). For a split second she has doubt and knows her time is coming and begs for her life but that doesn’t make the Misfit his mind.
By making the Grandmother question her religion makes it easier for the Misfit to pull the trigger. Arnold destroys Connie emotionally and mentally. When Connie becomes completely afraid she runs to lock the door but Arnold says, “It’s just a screen door. It’s just nothing” (Oates). The door is supposed to protect Connie, but Arnold tells her he could come through that door if he wanted to. He tells Connie that her dad isn’t coming back for her, anything that Connie says, he changes it around to where it is making him look like he is the good guy and everyone that can save her is the bad guy.
Arnold devastates all of Connie’s walls of protection. He says, “If the place got lit up with a fire honey you’d come running out into my arms, right into my arms and safe at home — like you knew I was your lover and’d stopped fooling around” (Oates). Arnold is brainwashing Connie because he knows she is naive, and will believe whatever he tells her. This is why he says things to threaten her to break her down. Arnold Friend tells Connie, “The place where you came from ain’t there no more, and where you had in mind to go is cancelled out” (Oates).
When he says that, Connie gives in because she knows he is talking about her past and future. She no longer has a future, and at that point Connie walks out the house and gives into Arnold. Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? ” by Joyce Carol Oates convey characters that have frightening elements. It is not always bout what a character is doing to make them fearsome, but how they are doing it. An appearance says a lot but actions speak so much louder.