Arnold Friend is one of the major characters in ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ His identity is hidden by the writer on whether he is human or non-human, based on his less impressive physical appearance, and his claim that he knows much about Connie’s family and their neighbors. He is described to appear scary, with his “mirrored sunglasses”, translucent skin and shaggy hair which are “so wild” to an extent that it resembles a wig. Arnold “wobbles when walking” as though his shoes do not fit him well, with an indication that his feet are hooves, like those of the devil. He also takes advantage of the vulnerable teenage girl, and is forceful to get what he wants. Leroy on the other hand is married to Norma Jean and is portrayed as lovable, kind, peaceful and perceptive. He is depicted to have calm admirable characteristic, unlike Arnold, but however a loser to his wife who takes over control of the house. Leroy has also taken the feminine roles after the accident, while Norma the masculine roles, as outlined at the beginning of the story when “Norma is weight lifting” while Leroy sits and watches.
Similarities between Arnold Friend and Leroy
Both Arnold and Leroy show the same characteristic of emotional reaction being not satisfied with the response of Connie and Norma Jean respectively. In the story Leroy appears to be somehow romantic and envisages that his wife will recognize his continuous company around the house, for the time he could not continue with his driving work after the accident, and that their marriage will as a result grow stronger. When he realizes that Norma Jean is irritated and troubled by his home return, he loses his identity as a husband. Arnold on the other hand appears to be persuasive at the beginning to convince Connie to join them for an outing, but when she refuses, he emotionally loses his purported calm identity and uses force by threatening her that he would harm her family members and the neighbors, some of whom Connie does not know.
Mason’s story also depicts Leroy as kind, lovable and insightful person who wants to see everyone happy, even when abused with the wife and mother in law. Equally, Arnold Friend is also referred to as “kind and extremely sexualized man” who offers to bring happiness into the life of Connie, the perceived unhappy teenager. This offer of kindness according to Connie makes him extremely dissimilar from her family and the other boys she had known, who seem not to have realized what makes her happy. The show of kindness in Leroy Arnold makes them lovable.
Leroy also admires Norma Jean and watches her anxiously while trying to imagine how she is feeling and what she is thinking. This also happens to Arnold one evening at a restaurant. The story mentions that one evening Connie noticed “a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy” (pg 28) staring at her. This boy turned to be Arnold Friend, who the following day went to visit Connie at her home. These incidences prove Leroy’s concerns and Arnold’s recognition of the beauty Connie’s beauty. At one point, Arnold is depicted as very gentle when he uses a ‘calm voice’ and ostensibly ‘gentle coaxing’ as he attempts to influence Connie to come outside. Leroy, on the other hand, diffuses the situation by remaining calm and declining to be provoked by the cruel wife and the mother in law.
Differences between Arnold Friend and Leroy
The appearance of Leroy and Arnold Friend is totally different as portrayed by the two stories. Arnold Friend is portrayed as less impressive, occasionally referred to as ‘Demon’ by the writer. He is pictured as and mentally ill: he puts on mirrored sunglasses, has translucent skin and “shaggy black hair” which is so wild that it resembles a wig. Arnold wobbles when walking as though his shoes do not fit him well, with an indication that his feet are hooves, like those of the devil. This abnormally mismatched appearance increases to the threatening quality and mental illness, which does not appear in Leroy’s traits. Mason, on the other hand, portrays Leroy as lovable, kind, peaceful and perceptive. He pictures him as man whose cool characteristic is admirable, but at the same time considers him a loser.
Arnold Friend is depicted to be superior when trying to convince Connie to get out. When Connie refuses, he commands by threatening that he would harm her family. This makes Connie to change her mind and accepts to go with them. Regardless of his abnormal appearance, Arnold initially appealed to Connie, though in a dangerous way. On the other hand, Leroy as the husband is seen to be playing an inferior role, which in normal circumstances is perceived to be for the wife, but the wife appearing a superior character. He permits himself to be intimidated by Norma Jean through her increased independence and her control of conversation while in the house. Norma Jean is shown to be weight lifting at the initial stages, to take over the masculine characteristic and functions in the house having that the husband is nursing a hip and leg injury he picked from an accident, while Leroy enjoys “building models and knits”, which are perceived to be feminine roles. This shows Norma’s determination to change and take over the roles of the husband, something that Arnold never allowed. Arnold is also presented not to be a human character by the claim that he knows things concerning Connie’s family and their neighbors. Leroy in this case appears to be human who is frustrated after losing his only son and being involved in an accident.
Similarity in situations
The situations of Arnold and Leroy are similar in the sense that both are involved in a relationship, Leroy having a wife, who does not respect him and tries to take over his superior roles. Arnold as well picks Connie for an outing and becomes the catalyst that changes her from a child to an adult. In both scenarios, the fate of Connie, Arnold and Leroy is not clearly known. Towards the end of the story, Norman is seen to be getting tired of the marriage does not indicate the final scenario that transpired in the life of Leroy.
Difference in their situation
Leroy is in a formal marriage, which though tumbles due to the overdependence of the wife after his left hip and leg injury, and the desire of the wife to be the superior of the household. Arnold however, is not a married man, but moves in with a “15-year-old girl”, still psychologically and sexually immature. Leroy is a normal human being whose identity is clearly known living in a family set up unlike the Arnold Friend whose identity is unknown and whose physical appearance is presented to be dreadful. The concept of Arnold dating a 15 year old girl, instead of a mature lady shows the level of irresponsibility, lack of respect and the mind of destruction that is not eminent on Leroy’s character.
What the two characters, and their stories, trying to show us
In the story ‘Shiloh’, the author Ann Mason, employs characterization and symbolism to show the exchanges in roles in the society, where some of the roles perceived to be superior and designated for males can as well be performed by females, as depicted by Norma Jean who lifts weights and controls the household. Equally, Norma Jean is also persistently depicted to be trying to change herself, although she seems not to make herself fit anywhere, relentlessly continues. Mason also uses feminine and masculine characteristics to represent superiority in the household as seen in many of the characters actions. Leroy has adopted feminine roles by enjoying constructing models and knits, but has ignored his masculine superior roles expected of him. He devotes more time thinking and worrying instead of taking tangible steps to advance his life. Norma Jean completely changed her lifestyle and when Leroy comprehends that the marriage is ending, he acknowledges that “it might not be a bad idea after all”. As the story nears the end, it gets clear that Norma Jean is getting weary with the marriage.
Arnold Friend in Oates’ story indicates the superior roles in the society and represents the older men of the society, who try to take advantage of the young girls like Connie in the society. He is the radical catalyst that transforms Connie from her childhood state to an adult through violent means. Arnold in this case represents sin, evil and temptations that human being face leading to the fall of the immature at the crossroads like the teenagers. This story outlines on the psychological and social challenges faced by adolescents in a contemporary society, as depicted by Connie, a 15 year old girl who always argued with her mother, and that teenagers are always under constant watch as depicted by the tittle of the short story, to avoid fall into temptations presented by the forces of darkness. The writer indicates that, Connie had a “deep-rooted desire for ultimate sexual gratification”, which was a destructive drive that Arnold took advantage of, to lure Connie and to be a catalyst for her physical and moral destruction.
In conclusion, the character traits of Arnold Friend as represented in Ann Oates’ short story and those of Leroy in the ‘Shiloh’ story are completely different. Arnold Friend’s identity is hidden, depicted by his mirrored sunglasses, long hair like wigs and wobbles as having hooves. He is forceful and manipulative to get what he wants and considered inhuman, and a force behind the spoilage of teenage girls. The Leroy, on the other hand, is a kind, lovable and calm husband who represents the society with changing roles of the masculine and feminine characters.