There are multiple pieces of evidence that point towards the fact that Connie had quite literally met Satan. There are too many for it to be a coincidence; not only were there numerous counts of imagery that pointed toward Arnold being Satan himself, but he was also performing actions that limited Connie’s sense of individuality. Not only was Satan capable of knowing things that only she and people very close to her would have known, but he was able to perform actions that hurt Connie physically without even having to touch her. Any other theory about Arnold being something such as a serial killer or it just being a dream is just too unrealistic.
The first piece of evidence that points towards Connie meeting Satan is Arnold and his behavior. Arnold’s behaviors show things that point toward him being Satan. Take for example, when Oates writes, “He wagged a finger and laughed and said, ‘Gonna get you, baby,’. This could mean that he’s Satan and looking to get Connie for his own nefarious purposes. Another piece of evidence that points towards, Arnold being Satan is, “’This here is my name, to begin with, he said. ARNOLD FRIEND was written in tar-like black letters”. His name is literally an analogy for “An Old Fiend”. Wanna know who else is an old friend? Satan. Go figure. The last piece of evidence that points towards Arnold’s behaviorism being Satan is when he states, “He ain’t coming. He’s at a barbecue.” Arnold knows exactly where her parents are, and this information wouldn’t be available to any normal human.
The second thing that points towards Arnold being Satan is his physical features. “ There were two boys in the car and now she recognized the driver: he had shaggy, shabby black hair that looked crazy as a wig and he was grinning at her.” Satan is known to manifest himself in the everyday world, and his creepy grin isn’t exactly helping his case. Another piece of evidence that points toward him being Satan is “He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing himself.” Satan is known to have hooves, and this guy was standing pretty weirdly. Could this perhaps be the face of mercy itself? The last piece of evidence that points towards Arnold being Satan due to his physical features, is when Oates writes, “And his face was a familiar face, somehow: the jaw and chin and cheeks slightly darkened because he hadn’t shaved for a day or two, and the nose long and hawklike, sniffing as if she were a treat he was going to gobble up and it was all a joke.” I mean, if Lucifer himself is gonna manifest inside the earth, he would probably make himself as attractive as possible. Though being attractive is something super subjective, a sharp jawline and a bit of stubble never hurt anybody ;).
The final point that leads towards Arnold Friend being Satan is the constant symbols that Oates throws into the story. Oates writes, “’Now, these numbers are a secret code, honey,’ Arnold Friend explained. He read off the numbers 33, 19, 17 and raised his eyebrows at her to see what she thought of that, but she didn’t think much of it.” These are biblical verses that point towards the devil and Satanism. This is too much of a symbol for this to be a coincidence. Going back to the first paragraph, Oates writes, “She looked at that name, ARNOLD FRIEND.” This is once again symbolism that points towards Arnold Friend being Satan. The last piece of evidence that points towards Arnold being Satan is, ‘My sign.’ And he drew an X in the air, leaning out toward her. They were maybe ten feet apart. After his hand fell back to his side the X was still in the air, almost visible. The fact that Arnold drew an X in the air and it stayed there for a while may or may not point towards the fact that he isn’t human. I don’t know about you, but not many people have the ability nor the motivation to draw random People in the air when they’re about to kidnap a girl.
Though people may claim that he could have just been a serial killer, there’s just way too much Satanist imagery to ignore. When Arnold is talking to Connie, he writes, ‘Listen: Betty Schultz and Tony Fitch and Jimmy Pettinger and Nancy Pettinger,’ he said in a chant. ‘Raymond Stanley and Bob Hutter—’. He knows the name of everybody at the barbeque. I highly doubt anyone has the persistence or ability to find out the name of everyone in her family and everyone that she knows. Oates also writes, ‘Sure you saw me before,’ he said. He looked down at his boots as if he were a little offended. ‘You just don’t remember.’ He could be referring to a police sketch after he killed someone, but he is most likely referring to how people have seen the face of Satan before. He also says, “’Yeah. Sitting around. There’s your sister in a blue dress, huh? And high heels, the poor sad bitch—nothing like you, sweetheart! And your mother’s helping some fat woman with the corn, they’re cleaning the corn—husking the corn—”. He knows exactly what’s going on at the barbecue right now, and even know someone that Connie herself doesn’t remember. That isn’t possible by a serial killer or a dedicated stalker.
There are multiple pieces of evidence that point towards the fact that Arnold Friend is Satan and is interested in Connie for his own nefarious reasons. The symbolism, physical features, and behaviors are too much to ignore when it comes to how he can be Satan. People may claim that he’s a serial killer, however, it’s more likely that he’s Satan himself due to the sheer amount of information that he possesses and how interested he is in Connie. Nobody is able to tell the present in another place, and there’s no way he could have been stalking her for so long that he remembers all of her relatives and their names. Arnold Friend is quite literally Satan.