1. Quotes From the Text
Joyce Carol Oates|
"Her name was Connie."
[34; factual statement in past tense, like in a police report]
"Now she remembered him even better, back at the restaurant, and her cheeks warmed at the thought of how she had sucked in her breath just at the moment she passed him—how she must have looked to him. And he had remembered her."
"... and listened to the music that made everything so good; the music was always in the background, like music at a church service; it was something to depend upon."
"Connie let the screen door close and stood perfectly still inside it, listening to the music from her radio and the boy's blend together."
"Part of those words were spoken with a slight rhythmic lilt, and Connie somehow recognized them—the echo of a song from last year, about a girl rushing into her boy friend's arms and coming home again"
(a kid's perspective)
"Her mother, who noticed everything and knew everything and who hadn't much reason any longer to look at her own face, always scolded Connie about it. [...] Connie would raise her eyebrows at these familiar old complaints and look right through her mother, into a shadowy vision of herself as she was right at that moment: she knew she was pretty and that was everything."
"It was a car she didn't know. It was an open jalopy, painted a bright gold that caught the sunlight opaquely. Her heart began to pound and her fingers snatched at her hair, checking it, and she whispered, "Christ. Christ," wondering how bad she looked."
[Connie / Arnold Friend] "'Where?' 'Where what?' 'Where're we going?' He looked at her. He took off the sunglasses and she saw how pale the skin around his eyes was, like holes that were not in shadow but instead in light. His eyes were like chips of broken glass that catch the light in an amiable way. He smiled. It was as if the idea of going for a ride somewhere, to someplace, was a new idea to him. 'Just for a ride, Connie sweetheart.'
[43, Arnold Friend trying to be childishly irresponsible]
[Connie] "'Shut up! You're crazy!' Connie said. She backed away from the door. She put her hands up against her ears as if she'd heard something terrible, something not meant for her. 'People don't talk like that, you're crazy,' she muttered."
[47 – childish reaction to unwanted talk]
[Arnold Friend] "'I toldja shut up, Ellie,' Arnold Friend said, 'you're deaf, get a hearing aid, right? Fix yourself up. This little girl's no trouble and's gonna be nice to me, so Ellie keep to yourself, this ain't your date right? Don't hem in on me, don't hog, don't crush, don't bird dog, don't trail me," he said in a rapid, meaningless voice, as if he were running through all the expressions he'd learned but was no longer sure which of them was in style, then rushing on to new ones, making them up with his eyes closed. 'Don't crawl under my fence, don't squeeze in my chipmonk hole, don't sniff my glue, suck my popsicle, keep your own greasy fingers on yourself!'"
[50f, imitating kid speech]
"She cried out, she cried for her mother"; "She thought, I'm not going to see my mother again. She thought, I'm not going to sleep in my bed again. Her bright green blouse was all wet."
[52 – first thought is of her mother]
"It was a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold. He stared at her and then his lips widened into a grin. Connie slit her eyes at him and turned away, but she couldn't help glancing back and there he was, still watching her. He wagged a finger and laughed and said, 'Gonna get you, baby,' and Connie turned away again "
"She stared at Arnold Friend. He stood there so stiffly relaxed, pretending to be relaxed, with one hand idly on the door handle as if he were keeping himself up that way and had no intention of ever moving again. She recognized most things about him, the tight jeans that showed his thighs and buttocks and the greasy leather boots and the tight shirt, and even that slippery friendly smile of his, that sleepy dreamy smile that all the boys used to get across ideas they didn't want to put into words. She recognized all this and also the singsong way he talked, slightly mocking, kidding, but serious and a little melancholy, and she recognized the way he tapped one fist against the other in homage to the perpetual music behind him. But all these things did not come together."
[Arnold Friend] "I don't like them fat. I like them the way you are, honey"
[47; whom, women or victims?]
"Then he began to smile again. She watched this smile come, awkward as if he were smiling from inside a mask. His whole face was a mask, she thought wildly, tanned down to his throat but then running out as if he had plastered make-up on his face but had forgotten about his throat."
(Arnold & Ellie)
"Ellie, put that away, didn't I tell you? You dope. You miserable creepy dope," Arnold Friend said. His words were not angry but only part of an incantation. The incantation was kindly."
[53 – Ellie used as a scapegoat and decoy, spoken to like to a kid]
"She spoke sullenly, careful to show no interest or pleasure"
[Arnold Friend] "'Connie, you ain't telling the truth. This is your day set aside for a ride with me and you know it,' he said, still laughing."
[Arnold Friend] "Now, what you're going to do is this: you're going to come out that door. You're going to sit up front with me and Ellie's going to sit in the back, the hell with Ellie, right? This isn't Ellie's date. You're my date. I'm your lover, honey."
[47 – speaking to her like to a child or to a subordinate, using simple commands, not merely giving an order but stating it as a fact]
"Arnold Friend said, in a gentle-loud voice that was like a stage voice, 'The place where you came from ain't there any more, and where you had in mind to go is cancelled out. This place you are now—inside your daddy's house—is nothing but a cardboard box I can knock down any time. You know that and always did know it. You hear me?'"
"he didn't want to make her self-conscious"
"Connie stared at him, another wave of dizziness and fear rising in her so that for a moment he wasn't even in focus but was just a blur standing there against his gold car, and she had the idea that he had driven up the driveway all right but had come from nowhere before that and belonged nowhere and that everything about him and even about the music that was so familiar to her was only half real."
"She was panting. The kitchen looked like a place she had never seen before, some room she had run inside but that wasn't good enough, wasn't going to help her."
"She was hollow with what had been fear but what was now just an emptiness."
"She thought, I have got to think. I have got to know what to do."
[52 – but she doesn't think]
"He ran a fingernail down the screen and the noise did not make Connie shiver, as it would have the day before."
"She felt her pounding heart. Her hand seemed to enclose it. She thought for the first time in her life that it was nothing that was hers, that
belonged to her, but just a pounding, living thing inside this body that wasn't really hers either."
[53 – distancing]
"She put out her hand against the screen. She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were back safe somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited."
[54 – detached]
"the land behind him and on all sides of him—so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it."
[54 – the unknown land = death: "The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn/No traveller returns" (Hamlet III,1)]