The main characters in the story are Connie, her mother and her sister June and Arnold friend. The story revolves around Connie’s home and the occasional trips that she and her friends would make to the shopping plaza. The story offers a presentation of the 1960 suburbia in the perspective of a teenager regarding movie theaters, restaurants, shopping malls, and ranch homes. Although the story offers a presentation of the modern day American suburb, the few pop culture elements make it possible to date the story. Arnold friend’s slick hair along with the tight pants is a representation of the teen idols of the time, such as James Dean furthermore Elvis Presley. Arnold’s partner is listening to a radio show on transistor handheld transistor radios that were first marketed in the year 1954.
The story is about family and control, with Connie having the impression that she is in control of her life and that she is smarter than all those who are around her. Connie believes that she can fool everyone around her as she had two sides in her life. She cast two sides in her life, having a different appearance and mannerisms when she is at home and a different appearance and mannerisms when she is with her friends. On one occasion, a strange guy makes a threatening gesture to her although she does not give it much thought until one Sunday afternoon when the rest of her family is attending a barbecue at her aunt’s house whereby she was left at home alone. The strange guy on this Sunday evening pulls in her driveway accompanied by his friend. The driver who introduced himself as Arnold Friend asks to connive to join him for a ride and in the course of their conversation; Connie realizes that Arnold is a threat. As they continue talking Arnold’s starts using a language that is sexually explicit and violent, threatening to harm her family if she dared call the police. Connie tries to call the police but panics and does not call. The end of the story sees Connie leave her house and joins Arnold for the drive.
I like the manner in which the Oates can transition from one story element to another. For instance, the introduction presents an excellent description of Connie so that any party reading the story can understand. Later on, she presents the climax to the reader that makes them glued to the story even more especially at the point when she realizes that Arnold is a threat and starts moving away from the door, asking him to leave, which results in him threatening her family unless she goes with him. The suspense elements are exceptionally brought out, with Oate’s leaving the reader eager to know what happens when Connie runs to the phone, with everyone expecting a happy ending but does not happen. The conclusion in itself is a masterpiece, presenting us with the imagery of Arnold Friend surrounded by vast sunlight reaches of the land. In this case, Oates leaves it to us to interpret the final act by Connie as an act of defeat or self-sacrifice. The only thing I did not like the story is the slow nature in which events were occurring, with there being a lot of talk in one scene.
The story begins concerning the vain habit that Connie has of compulsively checking herself in mirrors. The story is a reflection of its initial inspiration, the Renaissance death and maiden tales whereby a skeletal death incarnate can seduce a beautiful young lady. In these tales, all the victims on most occasions are shown gazing into mirrors as they relish their beauty as is the case with Connie. The long flowing hair is a powerful symbol relating to vanity in death and maiden tradition. Just as is the case of the maiden Renaissance Europe, the long golden hair that Connie has is a symbol of her beauty as well as vanity. She fails to attend a family event so that she can wash her hair and once Arnold, who is a representation of her death, pulls in her driveway; her fist instinct is to look at her hair.
The relevance of the story to the criminal justice relates to the issue of the aiding and abetting crimes, whereby, in this case, Arnold friend has an accomplice Eddie. The fact that Arnold has a partner gives him the confidence he needs as he knows that a girl cannot overpower the two of them. The fact that it was Eddie who initially took Connie out and, later on, delivered all the details to Arnold is an indication that Eddie was ready to aid him in his crimes. Thus, it is necessary that the criminal justices systems prosecute these parties that aid and abet crimes with a force that will act as a deterrent to others, thus lowering the rates of these crimes.