This is by far one of my most favorite short stories. I have read it several times, and feel a sense of foreboding every time I read it. Joyce Carol Oates shows a rite of passage of a young girl trying to grow up too quickly. "Her name was Connie." opens the story and leads the reader into a riveting story of a young teenager trying to act grownup and be accepted by those older than her. She hangs out one night with friends and she meets a new guy. The next day he drives up to her house. He introduces himself "I'm Arnold Friend and that's my real name..." Upon reading this sentence, the reader will put up a red flag. I mean, how many people introduce themselves that way. The description of Arnold reminds me of the Danny from "Grease"; I don't know why but he does. Here is where there is a juxtaposition going on in the story. Not only is Connie trying to act grown up, Arnold is trying to act younger. Connie suspects that he is much older than he is and he is trying to be hip by knowing where the kids hang out, what music they listen to, and how they dress.
Arnold's car can tell a whole story by itself. The paint on the car and type of car tell who he is. One must carefully read between the lines when any new information is given that is on the car itself. The numbers 33,19,17 are a special code. "Man the flying saucers" etc all add to the story.
Joyce Carol Oates leads the reader on though suspense and yet there is little action in the story. Her masterery of the English language and its power draws the readers in and makes this one of the best short stories ever.