There are all types of criminals in this world and there have been for years that it really doesn’t matter the time period. There can be such a thing as a frightening criminal and one who is not. One can be a psycho path, the other a sociopath, but can one be normal? Mary Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Good Man is hard to Find” is about a family who goes on a vacation, get in an accident and is murdered while asking for help. Joyce Carol Oates story “Where are you going, where have you been? ” is a story about a young girl who is lured in by a strange man who will be forced to feel “his love”.
Although these are two different criminals, they both have tactics that make them similar such as appearance, speech and their actual crimes. When The Misfit is introduced to the family after their accident, his appearance is one that stands out. He has no disguise, yet he does not look normal. O’Connor writes “He was an older man than the other two. 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” (411). The Grandmother instantly recognized him after seeing his appearance. Although the Grandmother noticed his appearance, The Misfit continued to be honest with who he was. This short story was written in 1955, it can be said that in 1955 it was rare that a man was seen was with his shirt off outside of his house, plus the way O’Connor describes the tightness of his blue jeans, it can be said that those weren’t his clothes to begin with.
The Misfit also had two apprentices, O’Connor writes “One was a fat boy in black trousers and a red sweatshirt with a silver stallion embossed on the front of it. The other had on khaki pants and a blue striped coat and a gray hat pulled down very low, hiding most of his face. He came around slowly on the left side. Neither spoke” (411). The two apprentices bring an eerie aspect to the plot of the story, for these three men were all dressed differently and out of place.
Although the two men were wearing heavy clothing, The Misfit was shirtless. In the story it never declares what season it is, but either way, whether it was summer or fall it would still be frightening or different that these three men were wearing such a different variety of clothing. Arnold Friend, unlike The Misfit had a disguise, whether it was his appearance or object with him. He was much older than what he made himself to be.
Oates writes “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 in and showed how lean he was, and a white pull-over shirt that was a little soiled and showed the hard small muscles of his arms and shoulders. He looked as if he probably did hard work, lifting and carrying things. Even his neck looked muscular“(555). Obviously Arnold Friend had done his research on how the boys Connie’s age dressed and acted, it was easy for him to lure her in that way.
His appearance would not only be a disguise, but a tactic as well, as she continues to talk with him she finds out he isn’t how old he says he is. Oates writes “His smile faded. She could see then that he wasn’t a kid, he was much she finds out he isn’t how old he says he is. Oates writes “His smile faded. She could see then that he wasn’t a kid, he was much older – thirty, maybe more. At this knowledge, her heart began to pound faster” (557). Arnold Friend had a made up appearance that could be attracted to as well as believed.
Despite The Misfits appearance, his speech is very polite and scarcely gentleman like. The Misfit says “Would you mind calling them children to sit down by you? Children make me nervous. I want all you all to sit down right together where you’re at” (411). Although The Misfit is being polite, it is completely abnormal. The demeanor of the way he asks for the children to sit down is frightening because he chooses to be nice about it. The Misfit is a criminal and the Grandmother recognizes him, he continues to stay calm and treat the situation as if it were just something he had always dealt with.
The Grandmother says “You shouldn’t call yourself The Misfit because I know you’re a good man at heart, I can just look at you and tell. ” The Misfit says “I pre-chate that, lady” (413). The Grandmother is trying to compliment The Misfit as if it might save her, so The Misfit goes along with it and is courteous with her compliments by thanking her. Clearly The Misfit is comfortable with who he is, so therefore he does not disguise himself to make others believe something that he isn’t. Arnold Friend is a liar by his appearance and the age that he tells Connie.
Not only is his age not right, but everything he says is a lie and overly romantic towards Connie. Arnold Friend says “Yes, I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will”(558). The things he tells Connie sound like the things a girl her age would like to hear, as if he gives her an option. The truth is she doesn’t have a choice. Arnold Friend begins to seem approachable by making Connie blush and being attractive as if that would lure her in so he wouldn’t have to threaten her.
Once Connie figures out that Arnold Friend is not the age he tells her, she begins to feel frightened and understands that this is not a good situation for her to be in. Oates writes “She backed away from the door. She put her hands against her ears as if she’d heard something terrible, something not meant for her” (559). Arnold Friends describes what he is going to make her “feel” at this point and Connie becomes threatened and attempts to threaten Arnold Friend by calling the police, but it is too late.
Arnold Friend says “Soon as you touch the phone I don’t need to keep my promise and come inside. You won’t want that” (559) Although Arnold Friend tried to persuade Connie with his good looks and charm, he has now become terrifying and she will have no choice but to leave with him. When it came to the type of crimes The Misfit committed, several can be suspected. The Grandmother says “Here, this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it say he did to these people. Just read it.
I wouldn’t take my children any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it” (405). The Grandmother reads about this criminal in the newspaper, which reveals crimes that he has committed which would later on be said by The Misfit himself. The Misfit says “It was a head doctor at the penitentiary said what I had done was kill my daddy but I known that for a lie. My daddy died in nineteen ought nineteen of the epidemic flu and I never had a thing to do with it. He was buried in the Mount Hopewell Baptist church yard and you can go there and see for yourself” (414).
Obviously The Misfit is delusional, it is the possibility of telling himself a lie to believe it. There was no bitterness of these crimes, nor would there be after the fact The Misfit and his apprentices would kill of this entire family. While the Grandmother is trying to convince herself and perhaps the criminal that he is a good man, her compassion decides to go too far. O’Connor writes “She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest” (415).
The Misfit was not used to this type of behavior so he could only use his common reaction. The only person from the family that he murdered himself was the Grandmother. Arnold Friend was an uncaught criminal. He had not been caught for the things that he had told Connie. Arnold Friend says “Hey, you know the old woman down the road, the one with the chickens and stuff—-you know her? ” Connie says “She’s dead—-“ Arnold says “Dead, What? You know her? ” (561). At this point it is a given that Arnold Friend has murdered women before Connie and this could possibly be the same fate for her as well.
After this exploitation of the murdered woman down the street Arnold Friend actually sums up what he will actually do to Connie, but his twisted way of telling her only adds to the crime that will soon happen. Arnold Friend says “But I promise it won’t last long and you’ll like me that way you to like people you’re close to. You will. It’s all over for you here, so come on out” (561). Rape or murder does not seem to fall out of the category of the things Arnold Friend will do to Connie. The only thing Connie can do is see what will happen. There is no definite with Arnold Friend.
Kirszner, Laurie and Stephen Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2013. Print. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?.” Kirszner and Mandell 551-562. O’Connor, Mary Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Kirszner and Mandell 405-415