Analysis of “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates

“In her short story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Joyce Carol Oates tells a rather disturbing tale of a vain teenaged girl and a mysterious man. This narrative truly showcases Oates’s brilliant writing style and the characters in this work are deeply fascinating. All the main characters in this short story represent something more than they appear at surface level and the interpretations of these characters by literary scholars vary greatly.

The characters and what they mean are the most important part of this story. Connie and her family are a bit ordinary, but they are easily relatable characters. In contrast, Arnold and Ellie are strange and dangerous depictions of dark forces. From young Connie and the older strangers Arnold and Ellie to Oates’s dreamy storytelling there is a lot to discuss.

Oates hooks us into her story by introducing us to Connie, a self-involved fifteen-year-old who is spending her summer chasing boys and listening to music. She seems to have issues with all her family members for one reason or another. Connie and her friend meet some boys at a restaurant when she spots Arnold Friend for the first time in a parking lot. She forgets about both him and his strange car until later. Then, one Sunday afternoon, her family leaves to go to a picnic and Connie stays home to wash her hair and listen to music. While she is listening to the radio Arnold and his friend Ellie Oscar show up at her house. The combination of Arnold’s strange appearance, his age, and his creepily-intimate knowledge of Connie and her family frightens our main character. He tries in many different ways to lure her outside until eventually Arnold gains seemingly complete control over the girl, rendering her helpless. The story ends with Connie leaving the protection of her home and going with Arnold- ostensibly against her will. The story when taken at face-value might seem like realistic fiction but with closer inspection the events are probably just a part of Connie’s nightmare.

When we are first introduced to Connie, it quickly becomes obvious that she is immature. This character was not written as one who was wise beyond her years, like a lot of stories portray their heroines. Instead, she pretends to be more mature than she really is. The lack of parental interest in Connie’s life allows her to roam freely without any real structure which leads to her feeling more independent than she actually is. In the story’s setting of mid-century suburbia, we see that the youth is heavily influenced by pop-culture and music, and Connie is no exception. Popular culture plays an important role in shaping Connie’s consciousness and in creating her idea of romantic love as idealistically sweet and gentle; this hope is ultimately destroyed by Friend (LitFinder). Connie is obsessed with music, and it saturates everything in the story. Her love for music might even be her undoing, because it seems as though music is the weapon Arnold and Ellie use to control her.

“”In ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ a satyr does come into the city, in the form of Arnold Friend”” (Easterly). Joan Easterly believes that the unusual Arnold Friend is actually a satyr in disguise. Oates gives many clues that this could be the case. His unusual appearance might be hiding several bits of demi-god anatomy from a wig covering his horns to his ill-fitting boots that might be secretly housing hooves. Naive Connie might not fully understand the extent of Arnold’s deception. She seems to think he is only an older man pretending to be young but if he is actually a mythological creature he is far more dangerous. His complete and unnatural control over Connie is a lot easier to explain if you think he is a supernatural being. However, many people believe that he is just a representation of Charles Schmid, a murderer that somehow lured teenaged girls to their deaths during the same time period as this story. While it is likely that he represents a satyr, without a direct statement from Oates as to who Arnold represents, he is open for interpretation. As Easterly puts it, The interpretations of Arnold Friend are complex and diverse, a tribute to Oates’s skill in creating allusive patterns, but the shadow of a satyr, flute in hand, lurks behind them all.

Arnold Friend and Connie are not the only characters in this story that critics have dissected. Arnold’s partner-in-crime Ellie Oscar has drawn the attention of many scholars as well. According to Alice Hall Petry, he is a representation of The King. She describes him as “”a character whose appearance, personality, and behavior suggest he is the incarnation of the admitted idol of Friend’s prototype: Elvis Presley.”” If you picture the character’s hair, sideburns, and clothes- chances are you’re just picturing Elvis. It also seems impossible for this character to exist without music, as it’s always following him and Arnold. His and Arnold’s music seem to be the most important part of the spell they have over Connie, and Ellie plays a big part in charming her with it- even turning up the radio in the car while Arnold is attempting to lure Connie outside. As with Elvis, Ellie projects an ambivalent sexual/motivational message which leaves his intended victim- a sexually mature but inexperienced adolescent girl- unsure of whether to perceive him as innocuous or sinister (Petry). There is a more sinister interpretation of Ellie though that is quite popular. He could also be a satyr alongside Arnold. It is strange and threatening that this character is silent except when he offers to help his friend by pulling out Connie’s telephone. And as Easterly says, several critics have noted, however, that these two men probably killed the old woman who lived down the road from Connie, and the threats to Connie’s family are direct. It seems as though Ellie Oscar might be more dangerous than just a caricature of a dead rock star.

While Connie’s family are not quite as interesting as Arnold and Ellie, they are still important to the story. One thing we know for certain about Connie’s family is that she isn’t really very close with them. As far as we can tell, our young protagonist has the worst relationship with her mother. In fact, other than a rocky marriage that’s about all we know about her- that she picks on her daughter and Connie doesn’t like her all that much. She seems to be the formally-beautiful archetypal domestic woman from what we gather from the story. Connie’s mother often compares her to her older sister June, who is a dowdy girl that works at her sister’s school. There is probably a lot of resentment between the two sisters since Connie is prettier, but her sister is portrayed as a dependable professional and is preferred by their mother. Connie’s father is not really a participating member of the family, he appears to only read his newspaper and avoid his wife and daughters. His lack of involvement is really the only remarkable thing about his character. We may not see many examples of affection from Connie towards her family, but it is important to note that when her family was threatened Connie sacrificed herself to save them- that’s one interpretation at least. It could also be interpreted that she had no control over herself with Arnold. Many scholars think that the story was all Connie’s nightmare. In Impure realism: Joyce Carol Oates’s Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ D.F. Hurley claims that Oates’s story violates one of the rules’ of dream vision or nightmare fiction: she does not complete the pattern by reawakening the dreamer to his/her old reality. The story ends before we find out for sure if Connie was dreaming her encounter with Friend and Oscar. According to Hurley, the struggle between a nightmare and a nightmarish imitation of reality is not just Connie’s but the reader’s too.

In closing, Oates’s allegorical style of writing lends to many different interpretations of the characters in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Connie is a stereotypical teenaged girl preoccupied with her appearance, love and music. Arnold is a personified representation of a mythological demigod and his friend Ellie represents either the King of rock and roll or another dark creature like Arnold. No matter how you understand the characters, they really are the heart of this story.

Self-esteem, Reputation and a General Mindset in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

The story that will be evaluated is entitled, “”Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”” This story is by Joyce Carol Oates, published in 1966. The author is trying to get the audience to grasp concepts such as self-esteem, reputation, and a general mindset of how our decision making process can effect us heavily. Through the main character Connie, we learn about how mind-bottling life can be as she goes about her day-to-day activities.

The story, “”Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,”” is an excellent example of how our reputation precedes us in which, it makes us face the reality of our decisions. Thus, we come to terms with our actions and this puts us in unfavorable situations to make choices we don’t necessarily want to make.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Analysis
  • 3 Conclusion

Summary

This story is about a fifteen year old girl, Connie. Throughout the story the author submits Connie’s feelings and emotions as she goes about her day. Connie’s character shows strong opinions towards her family especially her mother. The main character’s view is that her mother favors her sister June. Connie’s main belief is that her mother is jealous of her attractiveness. Through her actions/attitude Connie is characterized as a free spirit, who uses her appearance as a tool to, “”hang-out,”” with boys. The conflict of the story is when Connie is left home alone when her family leaves to go to a barbecue. She then sits around and listens to the radio until a jalopy pulls up in her drive way. Connie walks to the screen door where she meets Arnold Friend and instantly she is captivated with curiosity. As they start to conversate Connie begins to question Friend asking, “”Who are you,”” and “”why are you here?”” Connie is constantly observing the scene as she notices Friend’s buddy Ellie Oscar in the car. Also, she notices Friend’s rugged looks and makes the assumption that he is older than 18. As all these thoughts are rushing almost all at once to Connie, she ultimately feels uncomfortable and wants him to leave. Friend insists on taking her for a ride. When she refuses, Friend’s attitude leans towards becoming dangerous and aggressive. At this point, their general conversation elevates to a confrontation. Friend obviously has heard about Connie and what she likes to do in her spare time, so he thinks she is an, “”easy score.”” Arnold then threatens Connie, telling her that he will potentially hurt her family if she doesn’t comply. The main character contemplates calling the police but she fears Friend will hut her before she gets the chance. Friend then tells Connie where her family is and the exact details of what they are doing, without Connie saying anything. As she puts all the possible out comes together, she feels as though going with Friend will protect her family. The author illustrates a scene of hopelessness as Connie gives herself up and hence extinguishing her freedom. The author concludes with a sort of cliff-hanger vibe as Connie leaves with Friend, which puts it all in perspective, that Connie’s old lifestyle is gone forever.

Analysis

The duration of the story tip-toes around the concept of Arnold Friend’s presence. Connie is enticed by Friend’s elastic ability to be smooth one minute then be completely nonchalant the next. But there are some aspects that just don’t add up, so you have to ask yourself a few questions. “”How did Friend know where Connie lived? How did he know her name? How did he know exactly where her family was and what they were doing? Why did he act as if he had known Connie beforehand? How did he build the audacity to talk to her the way he did?”” Simply, some would say that he heard about her through the, “”grape-vine.”” But there is just some content that is just disturbing.

A theory that can be put into motion is that this whole confrontation is a symbolic representation of Connie’s sub consciousness. For example the series of conversation where Friend says,”” I ain’t late, am I?”” and “”Toldja I’d be out, didn’t I?”” places thoughts into hysteria. Connie wasn’t really expecting anybody over, she was just trying to chill and listen to the radio. Friend rolls up like he owns the joint and Connie is instantly amazed with curiosity.

Potentially, as Connie was daydreaming when her family drove away, she drifted into a slumber. The story says that she had closed her eyes in the sun and was just thinking about the characteristics of love. When she awoke she felt as if her setting was different. “”She shook her head as if to stay awake,”” per Oates. Possibly, during this time lapse Connie slipped into her unconsciousness and created this whole scenario about Friend.

Sounding as far fetched as it seems, this perspective can be examined like a nightmare. So at first, she falls asleep and everything is good then she wakes up feeling offset. During her dream she is accompanied by the confusion Friend brings. She feels obligated to talk to him as she is frozen in her current stance. She wants to move but she is not in control because her mind has invaded itself and created an alternate dimension. The main character is forced to live out this fantasy in order to grapple with the actual reality of her choices. In real life she chooses to get to know her male counterparts better in her form of social or sexual experimentation. Connie always has a perception that her looks are what makes her and she can never be defined by anything else. Her turmoil with her family along with her paranoia coats the fact that she negates to look towards where her life is actually heading.

A form of self-sabotage comes into question as well because Connie’s destructive nature allows room for someone to take advantage of her. It’s not crazy to suspect that her dream was her sub consciousness trying to warn her that the free life she was trying to desperately grasp would only keep to danger. A few things are just to coincidental, such as the convenience that Friend knew where her family was. Along with the timing of the family leaving for the barbecue and Friend just happens to show up. Also the way Oates ends the tale, can only be summarized by the underlying effects of a nightmare. Connie goes through this journey of self discovery to uncover the fear of her decisions as well as, the hopelessness she feels without her family. This all can accumulate to an epiphany suggesting that she should be grateful for what she has and to not try to grow up so fast. Perhaps this dream was a blessing in disguise so she can truly, “”wake up,”” and take responsibility in her young life to prevent a downfall towards an impending road of darkness.

Conclusion

The author captures a unique take on the, “”grip of reality theme,”” to allow young readers to make their own conclusions on what they think happened to Connie. Ultimately we as humans are always caught up with trying to take advantage of life. Often times, the decisions we make when we are younger can backlash on to our entire adult life, which can effect how the world perceives us. Our reputation is a definite essential to us and we always leave some sort of impact on this world with it. So in the end this story, “”Where Are You Going, Where Have You been,”” is an eye opener to all of us because what happened to Connie is a prime example of how our reputation/decisions can be left vulnerable for some else to prey upon. I challenge all who read this story to analyze all the main points, central ideas, and literacy factors to create their own perspective of Connie’s fate.

Female Stereotypes and Patriarchal Ideology in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”

The short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates showcases the female stereotypes and patriarchal ideology of the era through the struggles of the central character Connie. The story is set in the late 50s or early 60s, when topics like feminism, civil rights, sexual freedom, etc. were only just starting to gain momentum in what was still a conservative society.

Connie was a naive teenager trying to navigate her way to adulthood in a time when women were still expected to act in a certain way. As a result, she began to rebel, essentially living a double life. Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home. (Oates, 287).

Connie lacks any type of male guidance in her life. Her father was away at work most of the time, and when he came home he wanted supper and he read the newspaper and he went to bed. He didn’t bother talking to them much. (Oates, 287) Connie craves her father’s love and attention, and as a result began looking for male attention and affirmation wherever she could get it. Who they were didn’t matter to her. But all the boys fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face, but an idea, a feeling . (Oates, 289)

In an attempt to gain some sort of independence, Connie begins leading a double life. When she was home she was an innocent 15 year old, when she went out with her friends it was a different story. She wore a pull-over jersey blouse that looked one way at home and another way when she was away from home (Oates, 287). Connie’s attempts to act like a mature woman in order to attract male attention outside the home are a direct result of the lack of attention shown to her by her own father.

Lack of attention from fathers is a main theme of the story, not only from Connie’s father, but from the other fathers who drive them to and from the mall. They all fail to provide any type of interest or involvement in their daughters lives (Oates, 288). This causes these young girls to then seek attention from other male figures, making it easy for them to fall prey to a predator like Arnold Friend. On the surface he has all of the qualities that Connie is attracted to in a young male the clothes, the hair, the car, the music. Arnold is described as familiar and similarly dressed like all the rest of them (Oates, 292). Arnold’s bad intentions are not immediately clear to Connie, who was never taught about such things by her parents.

As the conversation with Arnold progresses, Connie begins to see things a little clearer, and realizes there is something off about him. When it finally becomes clear that Arnold is much older than he lets on, she understands that the situation is much more dangerous than she thought. It is then that Arnold begins his psychological attack on Connie.

He begins by telling her things about her family he shouldn’t know, like where they are, and what they are eating. He calls himself her lover’ and begins describing his sexual intentions towards her, throwing her into a panic. (Oates, 294) He threatens to hurt her family is she doesn’t come with him. Arnold’s friend Ellie even offers to cut the phone line. (Oates, 298) She attempts to phone the police, but has a panic attack. Arnold continues to threaten her family until he convinces her to come outside to him. Thinking she has no choice but to obey, Connie disassociates herself from her own body and mind as she walks toward the end of everything she has ever known. (Oates, 300)

American society has long placed men above women, making men the ultimate authority figures. Connie, like most teenage girls, is taught from the beginning the importance of obedience to patriarchy. With a detached father, and lack of any other father type figures, Connie finds herself forced into giving herself over to a rapist and possible killer all because of her struggle to gain attention from an older male figure. As Arnold Friend asks Connie, what else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in? (Oates, 299)

Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been” A Feminist Critique

Joyce Carol Oates short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been showcases the female stereotypes of the time through the protagonist Connie. The story is set in the 1960s, which was a time of great change in America. Topics like feminism, civil rights, sexual freedom, etc.

were only just beginning to emerge in what was still a fundamentally conservative society. Connie was a naive teenager trying to navigate her way to adulthood in a time when women were expected to behave in a certain way. She began to rebel in secret, in essence living a double life. Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home:’ (Oates, 1966).

Connie lacks any type of masculine guidance in her life. Her father was away at work most of the time, and when he came home he wanted supper and he read the newspaper and he went to bed. He didn’t bother talking to them much. (Oates, 1966.) Connie desires her father’s love and attention, and because of the patriarchal society in which she was raised, craved that male attention and dominance. She looked for male attention and affirmation wherever she could get it. Who they were didn’t matter to her. But all the boys fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face, but an idea, a feeling . (Oates, 1966)

In an attempt to gain independence, Connie begins leading a double life. When she was home she was an innocent 15 year old, when she went out with her friends it was a different story. She wore a pull-over jersey blouse that looked one way at home and another way when she was away from home (Oates, 1966). Connie’s attempts to act like an older, more mature woman in order to attract male attention outside the home are a direct result of the lack of attention shown to her by her own father.

Lack of attention from fathers is a main theme of the story, not only from Connie’s father, but from the other fathers who drive them to and from the mall. They all fail to provide any type of attention or involvement in their daughters lives (Oates, 1966). This causes these young girls to then seek attention from other male figures, making it easy for them to fall prey to a predator like Arnold Friend. On the surface he has all of the qualities that Connie is attracted to in a male the clothes, the hair, the car. Arnold is described as familiar and similarly dressed like all the rest of them (Oates, 1966). Arnold’s bad intentions are not immediately evident to Connie, who was never taught about such things by her parents.

As the conversation with Arnold progresses, Connie begins to see things a little clearer, and realizes there is something off about him. When it finally becomes clear that Arnold is much older than he lets on, she understands that the situation is much more dangerous than she thought. It is then that Arnold begins his psychological attack on Connie.

He begins by telling her things about her family he shouldn’t know, like where they are, and what they are eating. He calls himself her lover’ and begins describing his sexual intentions towards her, throwing her into a panic. He threatens to hurt her family is she does not come with him. Arnold’s friend Ellie even offers to cut the phone line. She attempts to phone the police, but has a panic attack. Arnold continues to threaten her family until he convinces her to come outside to him. Thinking she has no choice but to obey, Connie disassociates herself from her body and mind as she walks towards the end of everything she has ever known. (Oates, 1966)

American society has long placed men above women, giving men the ultimate authority. Connie, like most teenage girls, is taught from the beginning the importance of obedience to patriarchy. With a detached father, and lack of any other father type figures, Connie finds herself forced into giving herself over to a rapist and possible killer all because of her struggle to gain attention from an older male figure. As Arnold Friend asks Connie, what else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in? (Oates, 1966)

The Main Characters Connie and Arnold in “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been”

“In the short story, “”Where are you going, Where have you been,”” Connie and Arnold Friend are the main characters who portray the struggles of differentiating fantasy and reality. Connie is a typical fifteen-year-old teenage girl that is rebellious towards her family and mainly cares about her appearance. Along with her appearance, she listens to a lot of pop music that talks about love and romance which gives her a skewed idea of what love is supposed to be.

When she’s out with her friends or around the presence of boys, she acts and dresses more maturely in order to lure boys in to explore her sexuality and the idea of what love is supposed to feel like as it is said in the music she listens to. At home, she acts childish and wanders off into her day dreams. Arnold Friend is a mysterious character that isn’t really clarified as a real human being or a source of Connie’s imagination. From the brief descriptions throughout the story, he is found to be an older man in his late 30 or 40s, who tries to pull himself off as a teenager by dressing up, wearing a wig, and sunglasses that makes it hard to see his eyes, and talking in a nonchalant and careless way that a regular teenage boy would. Although he is insecure and unsure of his own identity, he is intrigued by Connie and comes to her home, which is also her “”safe space,”” and tries to break down her mature persona in order to lure her outside and face the harsh reality of a “”mature”” adult.

Oates describes Connie’s identities by saying, “”Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere not home, her walk that could be childlike and bobbing, or languid enough to make anyone think she was hearing music in her head smirking her laugh which was cynical and drawling at home but high pitched and nervous everywhere else, (Oates, 370)”” which gives off the impression that she feels the most comfortable and safe at home, while she is a unsure, sexy, and mature everywhere else. Her transition from teenager to adult is almost effortless because she uses location as an indication for how she should and shouldn’t behave. She is the most confident of who she is and how she should act when she’s at home, but when she is out and about with her best friend or around boys, she’s a bit more hesitant and trying to figure out what’s the best way to get the attention of the boys around her. Connie portraying a double personality instead of one stable is a sign of confusion and struggle to find the balance between the two. This sense of confusion is common amongst adolescents as they still have the mindset of a child, but society is pushing them to continuously mature, hence having different identities. It’s normal to have multiple personalities with different people, but Connie takes it a huge extreme. This is where Arnold Friend comes in to exploit her confusion and leads her to the harsh truth.

One way that Arnold breaks down her adult-like identity is through music. Music plays a huge role in Connie’s double personality and her escape from reality. When she is listening to music, “”…her mind is slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before, how sweet it was…the way it was in movies and promised in songs,”” (Oates, 373) showing her skewed idea of what love really is. She uses lyrics to determine that love is portrayed through sex and physical attraction and is often daydreaming when she’s listening. When Arnold first comes to the house, he knew to play music that happens to be “” the same program that was playing inside the house,”” (Oates, 374) in order to get her intrigued and comfortable enough to let him stay. As they continue to talk and get to know each other, Connie starts to become suspicious of Arnold’s character 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,”” (Oates, 379) which is an indication that she’s finally coming to her senses that there’s more to love than sexual attraction and the fantasy she once knew isn’t the same anymore. Arnold Friend does everything that would usually attract her, which is why she references the song being so familiar but knows that this situation is not the same as her time with Eddie or any other boy she’s been with.

With Connie’s want to act more mature, comes the want of independence from her authoritative figures. She doesn’t have a close relationship with her father because, “”Their father was away at work most of the time, and when he came home He didn’t bother talking much to them,”” (Oates, 370). Connie pays more attention to her appearance which makes “”Connie’s mother [pick] at her until Connie wished her mother was dead,”” (Oates, 370) showing that their relationship consists of hostile interactions. And June, her sister that she seems to hate the most because her mother would compare the two and say, “”June did this, June did that and Connie couldn’t do a thing, her mind was all filled with trashy daydreams,”” (Oates, 369). Although she wants to be independent and want nothing to do with her family, she relies on them for a roof over her head, food, ride to school, and etc. She also relies on her best friend’s father for rides to the movies or diner where they both have their sexual explorations with boys. With her nonchalant and careless mindset, it’s easy to believe that she would only do things that would benefit herself. This perception is broken once Arnold gives her the incentive, “”you come out here nice like a lady and give me your hand, and nobody else gets hurt,”” (Oates, 382) which wasn’t a hard decision for her to make. Something clicked in her mind, changing from child to mature adolescent to think about the lives of her family over her own is impactful in her character development. Although she gives them the idea that she doesn’t care or love them, she ultimately shows her true colors and appreciates all that she had when she is making her decision to leave the house into the uncertain future or reality.

Arnold Friend’s character remains a mystery – unsure of his true motives and why he wanted to target Connie specifically. Whether he’s in her imagination or reality, he acted as the confusion and uncertainty that Connie seems to have with her life. Breaking down one of things she enjoyed most, music. He broke down the fantasy that she escaped to at home by doing and saying everything she would like but at the same time, she knows that there’s no sincerity or passion that she once hoped for. Coming to her home, which is her time to act her age. Inflicting fear into her mind and giving Connie the idea that “” inside your daddy’s house – is nothing but a cardboard box I can knock down at any time,”” (Oates, 383) making her unfamiliar of the life she has. Connie has a skewed idea of what independence is, as there is more to exploring her sexuality and trying to rebel against her family even though she loves and cares for them dearly. At the end, as she is walking out of the screen door into her yard, there was “”so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it,”” (Oates, 384) showing that her conception of life has changed. This could be interpreted as her transition from adolescent to adult or to her death. Connie’s struggle to balancing her double personality is common in all adolescents in this society as we all put on a different face, attitude, and identity towards different people.

Feminism, Civil rights, Sexual Freedom in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”

The short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates highlights the female stereotypes of the era through the protagonist Connie. The story is set in the 1960s, which was a time of great change in America. Topics like feminism, civil rights, sexual freedom, etc.

were only just starting to gain momentum in what was still a deeply conservative society. Connie was a naive teenager trying to navigate her way to adulthood in a time when women were expected to behave in a certain way. She began to rebel in her own way, essentially living a double life. Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home. (Oates, 1966).

Connie lacks any type of male guidance in her life. Her father was away at work most of the time, and when he came home he wanted supper and he read the newspaper and he went to bed. He didn’t bother talking to them much. (Oates, 1966.) Connie wants her father’s love and attention, and because of the patriarchal society in which she was raised, craved that male attention and dominance. She looked for male attention and affirmation wherever she could get it. Who they were didn’t matter to her. But all the boys fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face, but an idea, a feeling . (Oates, 1966)

In an attempt to gain some sort of independence, Connie begins leading a double life. When she was home she was an innocent 15 year old, when she went out with her friends it was a different story. She wore a pull-over jersey blouse that looked one way at home and another way when she was away from home (Oates, 1966). Connie’s attempts to act like a mature woman in order to attract male attention outside the home are a direct result of the lack of attention shown to her by her own father.

Lack of attention from fathers is a main theme of the story, not only from Connie’s father, but from the other fathers who drive them to and from the mall. They all fail to provide any type of interest or involvement in their daughters lives (Oates, 1966). This causes these young girls to then seek attention from other male figures, making it easy for them to fall prey to a predator like Arnold Friend. On the surface he has all of the qualities that Connie is attracted to in a young male the clothes, the hair, the car, the music. Arnold is described as familiar and similarly dressed like all the rest of them (Oates, 1966). Arnold’s bad intentions are not immediately evident to Connie, who was never taught about such things by her parents.

As the conversation with Arnold progresses, Connie begins to see things a little clearer, and realizes there is something off about him. When it finally becomes clear that Arnold is much older than he lets on, she understands that the situation is much more dangerous than she thought. It is then that Arnold begins his psychological attack on Connie.

He begins by telling her things about her family he shouldn’t know, like where they are, and what they are eating. He calls himself her lover’ and begins describing his sexual intentions towards her, throwing her into a panic. He threatens to hurt her family is she doesn’t come with him. Arnold’s friend Ellie even offers to cut the phone line. She attempts to phone the police, but has a panic attack. Arnold continues to threaten her family until he convinces her to come outside to him. Thinking she has no choice but to obey, Connie disassociates herself from her body and mind as she walks toward the end of everything she has ever known. (Oates, 1966)

American society has long placed men above women, giving men the ultimate authority. Connie, like most teenage girls, is taught from the beginning the importance of obedience to patriarchy. With a detached father, and lack of any other father type figures, Connie finds herself forced into giving herself over to a rapist and possible killer all because of her struggle to gain attention from an older male figure. As Arnold Friend asks Connie, what else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in? (Oates, 1966)

Patriarchal Domination in “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been”

With good looks and sweet charm, men are able to win women over in a heartbeat. Why are men able to do this? Because women believe that they need basic human needs such as love and companionship to live. As you read through the short story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates, you notice Connie has issues of building a stable relationship with her family, which is shown through her personality.

She seeks out male attention to fill the relationship she believes is missing in her life. This is why she finds herself having an interest in a much older and strange man, Arnold Friend. Connie gets into the car because she wants to get away from her unstable family, likes the attention she is receiving from Arnold and is persuaded by his actions because he is not who he says he is. Reading the short story, you notice that the young girl, Connie, does not get along with her family and she believes they do not like her. She often puts herself out there in some ways because she knows she is pretty. When she runs into Arnold Friend, she never knew her life would change forever. She doesn’t even know this man, but he notices her at the drive-in restaurant and makes catcalls to her.

Connie does not think anything of it and liked the attention she was receiving. Connie didn’t get any attention at home, so she was intrigued by the little attention she got from Arnold’s cat call. It wasn’t until Arnold showed up at her house later that day, that she began to question him more. He tries to smooth talk her into going for a ride with him. Connie is still into the attention, so she tries to play hard to get until she notices strange things about Arnold. The first red flag she notices is he is a lot older than she initially thought at the drive-in. Another concern Connie had was he already knew everything about Connie, which brought her fear. He tries to persuade her to come with him but eventually turns to threaten her and tells her that if she doesn’t get into the car there will consequences. She is frightened but also seems to find interest in him and the idea of going with him still. Connie gets into the car with Arnold, potentially thinking this could be an opportunity of freedom for her but little does she know Arnold is not who he says he is. She is intrigued and excited by even the slightest attention, because of the lack of attention she receives at home. Connie does not have a very stable relationship with her family. She does not get along with them and believes they are all against her. She was always compared to her sister and Connie never seemed to live up to the standards of her mother.

Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How’ve you got your hair fixedwhat the hell stinks? Hairspray? You don’t see your sister using that stuff (pg. 186). These comments made Connie feel bad about herself like she wasn’t worthy of love from her family or anyone. Her mother always tore her down and made her feel like an outsider to their family, and as if she was not good enough. Her father did not seem to care to talk to her or build any kind of relationship either. Connie felt like her family was never giving her enough attention, so she put her interests into other things. Through the text, you notice that she likes male attention. Especially when Arnold cat called her from his car by saying Going to get you baby (187). You can tell she uses male attention to fill in the unstable relationship she has with her family. This shows one of the reasons that Connie gets into the car, she is sick of being treated like she is not good enough and with Arnolds smooth words and good looks, she is convinced that he can give her a better life than the one she is living in currently. Connie can barely resist the attention received from Arnold. Male attention, the thing she’s most longing for, is exactly what he’s giving her.

The sweet words he uses are her weakness and a way of getting into her head. I took a special interest in you, such a pretty girl, and found out all about you (191). Connie never really experienced attention like this which drew her in. He offered her love and a life much better than the one she is living in currently. This was the way to draw Connie into leaving with him. He knows that what she wants, which is love, something that will fill in the holes of her missing relationship with her family. We’ll go out to a nice field, out in the country here where it smells so nice and it’s sunny, Arnold Friend said. I’ll have my arms around you, so you won’t need to try to get away and show you what love is like, what it does. The hell with this house! It looks solid all right (196). Connie is intrigued by this and believes no one has ever shown her real love and with him saying this makes her believe that he will show her true love. Arnold is able to persuade her into believing in him because she is vulnerable and young. Throughout the text Arnold’s evil personality is shown. Arnold has this mischievous way about him that seemed to pull Connie in. She liked the looks and the actions that he portrays. As said in the introduction paragraph, Connie uses male attention to help fill in the missing attention from her family and that’s exactly what Arnold is doing for her. 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 (187). The way he acted towards her made her feel wanted, gave her attention. And that’s exactly what she wanted, male attention to draw her in. But we do not know if Arnold Friend is truly a good man. He tries to play it off as he is but through the text, you notice he is more like the devil. This is how it is honey: you come out and we’ll drive away, have a nice ride. But if you don’t come out we’re gonna wait till your people come home and then they’re going to get it (195). This shows an evil aspect of Arnold, threatening Connie that if she does not come with him, he is going to kill her family. She may be threatened by what he says but also finds an interest because she wants the love and attention that Arnold promised he’d give her if she got into the car. And with a little sweet talk and persuasion, Connie walks out the front door and right into the arms of evil.

Connie may think she is escaping her miserable life at home and her absent relationship with her family by running away with Arnold, but she only makes matters worse by living in a life of lies with Arnold. Running off with Arnold is not just leaving with him but also leaving with a form of the devil. He persuades her with the kind of words she wants to hear and shows her the love and attention she wants and thinks she needs. So much land Connie had never seen before or did not recognize except to know that she was going to it (197). We may not know what initially happens in the end, but we have an idea of what could have potentially happened to her. As a young girl, it is easy to believe charming men and fall for the words he is feeding and telling you. As for Connie, the words from Arnold were the words she had been longing to hear from her family. She wanted love and someone to show her she mattered by giving her attention. Arnold took advantage of this poor young girl and ended up showing her the love she thought she wanted but possibly not the kind of love she truly needed. He used treats to get her to take the first step to come, which initially worked. He then used this power over her with charming words and actions to get her to stay with him forever.

Vulnerable women tend to lean towards men to fulfill their void of loneliness. Connie’s lack of structure at home creates a wall between her and her family. Without support at home from her family, Connie becomes lonely and in need of attention to fill the absence of attention from her main support system. These factors set Connie up to be very vulnerable and being taken advantage of by a man or anyone whiling to feed off her. Arnold tells Connie exactly what she needs to hear, and she begins to feed off his attention. Many women become attracted to men who give them what they think they need and tell them all the things they want to hear. Connie was intrigued by the idea of Arnold’s attention and love, not necessary him as a person. She becomes blinded by the evilness behind his charming words and actions that make her feel cared for and loved.

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates (1966)

Her name was Connie. She was fifteen and she had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right. 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.

“”Stop gawking at yourself. Who are you? You think you’re so pretty?”” she would say. 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. Her mother had been pretty once too, if you could believe those old snapshots in the album, but now her looks were gone and that was why she was always after Connie.

“”Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How’ve you got your hair fixedwhat the hell stinks? Hair spray? You don’t see your sister using that junk.””

Her sister June was twenty-four and still lived at home. She was a secretary in the high school Connie attended, and if that wasn’t bad enoughwith her in the same buildingshe was so plain and chunky and steady that Connie had to hear her praised all the time by her mother and her mother’s sisters. June did this, June did that, she saved money and helped clean the house and cooked and Connie couldn’t do a thing, her mind was all filled with trashy daydreams. Their father was away at work most of the time and when he came home he wanted supper and he read the newspaper at supper and after supper he went to bed. He didn’t bother talking much to them, but around his bent head Connie’s mother kept picking at her until Connie wished her mother was dead and she herself was dead and it was all over. “”She makes me want to throw up sometimes,”” she complained to her friends. She had a high, breathless, amused voice that made everything she said sound a little forced, whether it was sincere or not.

There was one good thing: June went places with girl friends of hers, girls who were just as plain and steady as she, and so when Connie wanted to do that her mother had no objections. The father of Connie’s best girl friend drove the girls the three miles to town and left them at a shopping plaza so they could walk through the stores or go to a movie, and when he came to pick them up again at eleven he never bothered to ask what they had done.

They must have been familiar sights, walking around the shopping plaza in their shorts and flat ballerina slippers that always scuffed the sidewalk, with charm bracelets jingling on their thin wrists; they would lean together to whisper and laugh secretly if someone passed who amused or interested them. Connie had long dark blond hair that drew anyone’s eye to it, and she wore part of it pulled up on her head and puffed out and the rest of it she let fall down her back. She wore a pull-over jersey blouse that looked one way when she was at home and another way when she was away from home. Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home: her walk, which could be childlike and bobbing, or languid enough to make anyone think she was hearing music in her head; her mouth, which was pale and smirking most of the time, but bright and pink on these evenings out; her laugh, which was cynical and drawling at home””Ha, ha, very funny,””but highpitched and nervous anywhere else, like the jingling of the charms on her bracelet.

Sometimes they did go shopping or to a movie, but sometimes they went across the highway, ducking fast across the busy road, to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out. The restaurant was shaped like a big bottle, though squatter than a real bottle, and on its cap was a revolving figure of a grinning boy holding a hamburger aloft. One night in midsummer they ran across, breathless with daring, and right away someone leaned out a car window and invited them over, but it was just a boy from high school they didn’t like. It made them feel good to be able to ignore him. They went up through the maze of parked and cruising cars to the bright- lit, fly-infested restaurant, their faces pleased and expectant as if they were entering a sacred building that loomed up out of the night to give them what haven and blessing they yearned for. They sat at the counter and crossed their legs at the ankles, their thin shoulders rigid with excitement, 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.

A boy named Eddie came in to talk with them. He sat backwards on his stool, turning himself jerkily around in semicircles and then stopping and turning back again, and after a while he asked Connie if she would like something to eat. She said she would and so she tapped her friend’s arm on her way outher friend pulled her face up into a brave, droll lookand Connie said she would meet her at eleven, across the way. “”I just hate to leave her like that,”” Connie said earnestly, but the boy said that she wouldn’t be alone for long. So they went out to his car, and on the way Connie couldn’t help but let her eyes wander over the windshields and faces all around her, her face gleaming with a joy that had nothing to do with Eddie or even this place; it might have been the music. She drew her shoulders up and sucked in her breath with the pure pleasure of being alive, and just at that moment she happened to glance at a face just a few feet from hers. 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 without

Eddie noticing anything.

She spent three hours with him, at the restaurant where they ate hamburgers and drank Cokes in wax cups that were always sweating, and then down an alley a mile or so away, and when he left her off at five to eleven only the movie house was still open at the plaza. Her girl friend was there, talking with a boy. When Connie came up, the two girls smiled at each other and Connie said, “”How was the movie?”” and the girl said, ‘You should know.”” They rode off with the girl’s father, sleepy and pleased, and Connie couldn’t help but look back at the darkened shopping plaza with its big empty parking lot and its signs that were faded and ghostly now, and over at the drive-in restaurant where cars were still circling tirelessly. She couldn’t hear the music at this distance.

Next morning June asked her how the movie was and Connie said, “”So-so.””

She and that girl and occasionally another girl went out several times a week, and the rest of the time Connie spent around the houseit was summer vacationgetting in her mother s way and thinking, dreaming about the boys she met. But all the boys fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face but an idea, a feeling, mixed up with the urgent insistent pounding of the music and the humid night air of July. Connie’s mother kept dragging her back to the daylight by finding things for her to do or saying suddenly, ‘What’s this about the Pettinger girl?””

And Connie would say nervously, “”Oh, her. That dope.”” She always drew thick clear lines between herself and such girls, and her mother was simple and kind enough to believe it. Her mother was so simple, Connie thought, that it was maybe cruel to fool her so much. Her mother went scuffling around the house in old bedroom slippers and complained over the telephone to one sister about the other, then the other called up and the two of them complained about the third one. If June’s name was mentioned her mother’s tone was approving, and if Connie’s name was mentioned it was disapproving. This did not really mean she disliked Connie, and actually Connie thought that her mother preferred her to June just because she was prettier, but the two of them kept up a pretense of exasperation, a sense that they were tugging and struggling over something of little value to either of them. Sometimes, over coffee, they were almost friends, but something would come upsome vexation that was like a fly buzzing suddenly around their headsand their faces went hard with contempt.

One Sunday Connie got up at elevennone of them bothered with churchand washed her hair so that it could dry all day long in the sun. Her parents and sister were going to a barbecue at an aunt’s house and Connie said no, she wasn’t interested, rolling her eyes to let her mother know just what she thought of it. “”Stay home alone then,”” her mother said sharply. Connie sat out back in a lawn chair and watched them drive away, her father quiet and bald, hunched around so that he could back the car out, her mother with a look that was still angry and not at all softened through the windshield, and in the back seat poor old June, all dressed up as if she didn’t know what a barbecue was, with all the running yelling kids and the flies. Connie sat with her eyes closed in the sun, dreaming and dazed with the warmth about her as if this were a kind of love, the caresses of love, and her mind slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before and how nice he had been, how sweet it always was, not the way someone like June would suppose but sweet, gentle, the way it was in movies and promised in songs; and when she opened her eyes she hardly knew where she was, the back yard ran off into weeds and a fence-like line of trees and behind it the sky was perfectly blue and still. The asbestos ranch house that was now three years old startled herit looked small. She shook her head as if to get awake.

It was too hot. She went inside the house and turned on the radio to drown out the quiet. She sat on the edge of her bed, barefoot, and listened for an hour and a half to a program called XYZ Sunday Jamboree, record after record of hard, fast, shrieking songs she sang along with, interspersed by exclamations from “”Bobby King””: “”An’ look here, you girls at Napoleon’sSon and Charley want you to pay real close attention to this song coming up!””

And Connie paid close attention herself, bathed in a glow of slow-pulsed joy that seemed to rise mysteriously out of the music itself and lay languidly about the airless little room, breathed in and breathed out with each gentle rise and fall of her chest.

After a while she heard a car coming up the drive. She sat up at once, startled, because it couldn’t be her father so soon. The gravel kept crunching all the way in from the roadthe driveway was longand Connie ran to the window. 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. The car came to a stop at the side door and the horn sounded four short taps, as if this were a signal Connie knew.

She went into the kitchen and approached the door slowly, then hung out the screen door, her bare toes curling down off the step.

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.

“”I ain’t late, am I?”” he said.

“”Who the hell do you think you are?”” Connie said.

“”Toldja I’d be out, didn’t I?””

“”I don’t even know who you are.””

She spoke sullenly, careful to show no interest or pleasure, and he spoke in a fast, bright monotone. Connie looked past him to the other boy, taking her time. He had fair brown hair, with a lock that fell onto his forehead. His sideburns gave him a fierce, embarrassed look, but so far he hadn’t even bothered to glance at her. Both boys wore sunglasses. The driver’s glasses were metallic and mirrored everything in miniature.

“”You wanta come for a ride?”” he said.

Connie smirked and let her hair fall loose over one shoulder.

“”Don’tcha like my car? New paint job,”” he said. “”Hey.””

“”What?””

“”You’re cute.””

She pretended to fidget, chasing flies away from the door.

“”Don’tcha believe me, or what?”” he said.

“”Look, I don’t even know who you are,”” Connie said in disgust.

“”Hey, Ellie’s got a radio, see. Mine broke down.”” He lifted his friend’s arm and showed her the little transistor radio the boy was

holding, and now Connie began to hear the music. It was the same program that was playing inside the house.

“”Bobby King?”” she said.

“”I listen to him all the time. I think he’s great.””

“”He’s kind of great,”” Connie said reluctantly.

“”Listen, that guy’s great. He knows where the action is.””

Connie blushed a little, because the glasses made it impossible for her to see just what this boy was looking at. She couldn’t decide if she liked him or if he was just a jerk, and so she dawdled in the doorway and wouldn’t come down or go back inside. She said, “”What’s all that stuff painted on your car?””

“”Can’tcha read it?”” He opened the door very carefully, as if he were afraid it might fall off. He slid out just as carefully, planting his feet firmly on the ground, the tiny metallic world in his glasses slowing down like gelatine hardening, and in the midst of it Connie’s bright green blouse. “”This here is my name, to begin with, he said. ARNOLD FRIEND was written in tarlike black letters on the side, with a drawing of a round, grinning face that reminded Connie of a pumpkin, except it wore sunglasses. “”I wanta introduce myself, I’m Arnold Friend and that’s my real name and I’m gonna be your friend, honey, and inside the car’s Ellie Oscar, he’s kinda shy.”” Ellie brought his transistor radio up to his shoulder and balanced it there. “”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. The left rear fender had been smashed and around it was written, on the gleaming gold background: DONE BY CRAZY WOMAN DRIVER. Connie had to laugh at that. Arnold Friend was pleased at her laughter and looked up at her. “”Around the other side’s a lot more you wanta come and see them?””

“”No.””

“”Why not?””

“”Why should I?””

“”Don’tcha wanta see what’s on the car? Don’tcha wanta go for a ride?””

“”I don’t know.””

“”Why not?””

“”I got things to do.””

“”Like what?””

“”Things.””

He laughed as if she had said something funny. He slapped his thighs. He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing himself. He wasn’t tall, only an inch or so taller than she would be if she came down to him. 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. 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.

“”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. The way he

straightened and recovered from his fit of laughing showed that it had been all fake.

“”How do you know what my name is?”” she said suspiciously.

“”It’s Connie.””

“”Maybe and maybe not.””

“”I know my Connie,”” he said, wagging his finger. 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 himhow she must have looked to him. And he had remembered her. “”Ellie and I come out here especially for you,”” he said. “”Ellie can sit in back. How about it?””

“”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.””

“”I never said my name was Connie,”” she said.

“”But I know what it is. I know your name and all about you, lots of things,”” Arnold Friend said. He had not moved yet but stood still leaning back against the side of his jalopy. “”I took a special interest in you, such a pretty girl, and found out all about youlike I know your parents and sister are gone somewheres and I know where and how long they’re going to be gone, and I know who you were with last night, and your best girl friend’s name is Betty. Right?””

He spoke in a simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song. His smile assured her that everything was fine. In the car Ellie turned up the volume on his radio and did not bother to look around at them.

“”Ellie can sit in the back seat,”” Arnold Friend said. He indicated his friend with a casual jerk of his chin, as if Ellie did not count and

she should not bother with him.

“”How’d you find out all that stuff?”” Connie said.

“”Listen: Betty Schultz and Tony Fitch and Jimmy Pettinger and Nancy Pettinger,”” he said in a chant. “”Raymond Stanley and Bob Hutter””

“”Do you know all those kids?””

“”I know everybody.””

“”Look, you’re kidding. You’re not from around here.””

“”Sure.””

“”Buthow come we never saw you before?””

“”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.””

“”I guess I’d remember you,”” Connie said.

“”Yeah?”” He looked up at this, beaming. He was pleased. He began to mark time with the music from Ellie’s radio, tapping his fists lightly together. Connie looked away from his smile to the car, which was painted so bright it almost hurt her eyes to look at it. She looked at that name, ARNOLD FRIEND. And up at the front fender was an expression that was familiarMAN THE FLYING SAUCERS. It was an expression kids had used the year before but didn’t use this year. She looked at it for a while as if the words meant something to her that she did not yet know.

“”What’re you thinking about? Huh?”” Arnold Friend demanded. “”Not worried about your hair blowing around in the car, are you?””

“”No.””

“”Think I maybe can’t drive good?””

“”How do I know?””

“”You’re a hard girl to handle. How come?”” he said. “”Don’t you know I’m your friend? Didn’t you see me put my sign in the air when you walked by?””

“”What sign?””

“”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. 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. 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.

She said suddenly, “”Hey, how old are you?””

His smiled faded. She could see then that he wasn’t a kid, he was much olderthirty, maybe more. At this knowledge her heart began to pound faster.

“”That’s a crazy thing to ask. Can’tcha see I’m your own age?””

“”Like hell you are.””

“”Or maybe a couple years older. I’m eighteen.””

“”Eighteen?”” she said doubtfully.

He grinned to reassure her and lines appeared at the corners of his mouth. His teeth were big and white. He grinned so broadly his eyes became slits and she saw how thick the lashes were, thick and black as if painted with a black tarlike material. Then, abruptly, he seemed to become embarrassed and looked over his shoulder at Ellie. “”Him, he’s crazy,”” he said. “”Ain’t he a riot? He’s a nut, a real character.”” Ellie was still listening to the music. His sunglasses told nothing about what he was thinking. He wore a bright orange shirt unbuttoned halfway to show his chest, which was a pale, bluish chest and not muscular like Arnold Friend’s. His shirt collar was turned up all around and the very tips of the collar pointed out past his chin as if they were protecting him. He was pressing the transistor radio up against his ear and sat there in a kind of daze, right in the sun.

“”He’s kinda strange,”” Connie said.

“”Hey, she says you’re kinda strange! Kinda strange!”” Arnold Friend cried. He pounded on the car to get Ellie’s attention. Ellie turned for the first time and Connie saw with shock that he wasn’t a kid eitherhe had a fair, hairless face, cheeks reddened slightly as if the veins grew too close to the surface of his skin, the face of a forty-year-old baby. Connie felt a wave of dizziness rise in her at this sight and she stared at him as if waiting for something to change the shock of the moment, make it all right again. Ellie’s lips

kept shaping words, mumbling along with the words blasting in his ear.

“”Maybe you two better go away,”” Connie said faintly.

“”What? How come?”” Arnold Friend cried. “”We come out here to take you for a ride. It’s Sunday.”” He had the voice of the man on the radio now. It was the same voice, Connie thought. “”Don’tcha know it’s Sunday all day? And honey, no matter who you were with last night, today you’re with Arnold Friend and don’t you forget it! Maybe you better step out here,”” he said, and this last was in a different voice. It was a little flatter, as if the heat was finally getting to him.

“”No. I got things to do.””

“”Hey.””

“”You two better leave.””

“”We ain’t leaving until you come with us.””

“”Like hell I am””

“”Connie, don’t fool around with me. I meanI mean, don’t fool around,”” he said, shaking his head. He laughed incredulously. He placed his sunglasses on top of his head, carefully, as if he were indeed wearing a wig, and brought the stems down behind his ears. 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 fromnowhere 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.

“”If my father comes and sees you””

“”He ain’t coming. He’s at a barbecue.””

“”How do you know that?””

“”Aunt Tillie’s. Right now they’re uhthey’re drinking. Sitting around,”” he said vaguely, squinting as if he were staring all the way to town and over to Aunt Tillie’s back yard. Then the vision seemed to get clear and he nodded energetically. “”Yeah. Sitting around. There’s your sister in a blue dress, huh? And high heels, the poor sad bitchnothing like you, sweetheart! And your mother’s helping some fat woman with the corn, they’re cleaning the cornhusking the corn””

“”What fat woman?”” Connie cried.

“”How do I know what fat woman, I don’t know every goddamn fat woman in the world!”” Arnold Friend laughed.

“”Oh, that’s Mrs. Hornsby . . . . Who invited her?”” Connie said. She felt a little lightheaded. Her breath was coming quickly.

“”She’s too fat. I don’t like them fat. I like them the way you are, honey,”” he said, smiling sleepily at her. They stared at each other for a while through the screen door. He said softly, “”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.””

“”What? You’re crazy””

“”Yes, I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will,”” he said. “”I know that too. I know all about you. But look: it’s real nice and you couldn’t ask for nobody better than me, or more polite. I always keep my word. I’ll tell you how it is, I’m always nice at first, the first time. I’ll hold you so tight you won’t think you have to try to get away or pretend anything because you’ll know you can’t. And I’ll come inside you where it’s all secret and you’ll give in to me and you’ll love me “”

“”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. Her heart was almost too big now for her chest and its pumping made sweat break out all over her. She looked out to see Arnold Friend pause and then take a step toward the porch, lurching. He almost fell. But, like a clever drunken man, he managed to catch his balance. He wobbled in his high boots and grabbed hold of one of the porch posts.

“”Honey?”” he said. “”You still listening?””

“”Get the hell out of here!””

“”Be nice, honey. Listen.””

“”I’m going to call the police””

He wobbled again and out of the side of his mouth came a fast spat curse, an aside not meant for her to hear. But even this “”Christ!”” sounded forced. 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.

“”Honey? Listen, here’s how it is. I always tell the truth and I promise you this: I ain’t coming in that house after you.””

“”You better not! I’m going to call the police if youif you don’t””

“”Honey,”” he said, talking right through her voice, “”honey, I m not coming in there but you are coming out here. You know why?””

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. The kitchen window had never had a curtain, after three years, and there were dishes in the sink for her to doprobablyand if you ran your hand across the table you’d probably feel something sticky there.

“”You listening, honey? Hey?”” “”going to call the police””

“”Soon as you touch the phone I don’t need to keep my promise and can come inside. You won’t want that.””

She rushed forward and tried to lock the door. Her fingers were shaking. “”But why lock it,”” Arnold Friend said gently, talking right into her face. “”It’s just a screen door. It’s just nothing.”” One of his boots was at a strange angle, as if his foot wasn’t in it. It pointed out to the left, bent at the ankle. “”I mean, anybody can break through a screen door and glass and wood and iron or anything else if he needs to, anybody at all, and specially Arnold Friend. If the place got lit up with a fire, honey, you’d come runnin’ out into my arms, right into my arms an’ safe at homelike you knew I was your lover and’d stopped fooling around. I don’t mind a nice shy girl but I don’t like no fooling around.”” Part of those words were spoken with a slight rhythmic lilt, and Connie somehow recognized themthe echo of a song from last year, about a girl rushing into her boy friend’s arms and coming home again

Connie stood barefoot on the linoleum floor, staring at him. “”What do you want?”” she whispered.

“”I want you,”” he said.

“”What?””

“”Seen you that night and thought, that’s the one, yes sir. I never needed to look anymore.””

“”But my father’s coming back. He’s coming to get me. I had to wash my hair first” She spoke in a dry, rapid voice, hardly raising it for him to hear.

“”No, your daddy is not coming and yes, you had to wash your hair and you washed it for me. It’s nice and shining and all for me. I thank you sweetheart,”” he said with a mock bow, but again he almost lost his balance. He had to bend and adjust his boots. Evidently his feet did not go all the way down; the boots must have been stuffed with something so that he would seem taller. Connie stared out at him and behind him at Ellie in the car, who seemed to be looking off toward Connie’s right, into nothing. This Ellie said, pulling the words out of the air one after another as if he were just discovering them, “”You want me to pull out the phone?””

“”Shut your mouth and keep it shut,”” Arnold Friend said, his face red from bending over or maybe from embarrassment because Connie had seen his boots. “”This ain’t none of your business.””

“”Whatwhat are you doing? What do you want?”” Connie said. “”If I call the police they’ll get you, they’ll arrest you””

“”Promise was not to come in unless you touch that phone, and I’ll keep that promise,”” he said. He resumed his erect position and tried to force his shoulders back. He sounded like a hero in a movie, declaring something important. But he spoke too loudly and it was as if he were speaking to someone behind Connie. “”I ain’t made plans for coming in that house where I don’t belong but just for you to come out to me, the way you should. Don’t you know who I am?””

“”You’re crazy,”” she whispered. She backed away from the door but did not want to go into another part of the house, as if this would give him permission to come through the door. “”What do you . . . you’re crazy, you. . . .””

“”Huh? What’re you saying, honey?””

Her eyes darted everywhere in the kitchen. She could not remember what it was, this room.

“”This is how it is, honey: you come out and we’ll drive away, have a nice ride. But if you don’t come out we’re gonna wait till your people come home and then they’re all going to get it.””

“”You want that telephone pulled out?”” Ellie said. He held the radio away from his ear and grimaced, as if without the radio the air was too much for him.

“”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!”” He shaded his eyes and peered in at Connie, who was backed against the kitchen table. “”Don’t mind him, honey, he’s just a creep. He’s a dope. Right? I’m the boy for you, and like I said, you come out here nice like a lady and give me your hand.”

Joyce Carol Oates and Sowing Wild Oats: Context for “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

The life and times of Joyce Carol Oates dynamically impact the short story, “Where You Are Going; Where Have You Been” in which music, myth and mores shape the social text corresponding with the 1960s. The 1965 rock song, “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” lyrically and historically harmonizes in Oates’ short story, “Where are you going; Where have you been.” First of all, the eerie antagonist of the story, Arnold Friend, a serial killer-rapist, represents a fictionalised version of Charles Schmid who because of the Tucson murders of 1966 caught Oates’ attention as the character base for her story.

Oates herself has confessed the inspiration and impact that “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” has on this particular narrative. “In ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ Oates makes an ordinary tale extraordinary by juxtaposing two powerful legends: the modern rock hero (the story is dedicated to activist-song writer Bob Dylan), and the ancient demon lover” (Bender). The lines of the song’s first stanza read, “Yonder stands your orphan with his gun, crying like a fire in the sun.” The bereft and dangerous child alludes to none other than Arnold Friend/Charles Schmid. Schmid grew up a parentless life – he came from parents who rejected him and was then adopted into a foster family which offered no guidance. The child/adult image evokes a juxtaposed image of innocence and danger, purity and corruption. As a predator of teenage girls, Schmid matches this double figure of childishness merged with dangerous aggression. In the novel, his unfortunate victim mirrors his double personality since Connie herself has a double faceted character. She is both woman and girl, experienced and naïve. After brutally raping Connie, Friend calls her “my sweet little blue-eyed girl.” This epithet is an obvious reference to the title of Bob Dylan’s 1965 song “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” Friend has an obsession over blue-eyed girls and the woman in the song is affectionately called “Baby Blue.” The fact that ‘it’s all over now’ signifies that a conclusive tragedy at the end. The haunting chorus ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’ pervades the song reminding the ill-fated character of an imminent fall.

The second stanza of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” draws reference to “The empty-handed painter from your streets; Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets.” These lines again point to Charles Schmid as a psychopath with the merger of the demented, threatening adult and the troubled child. Schmid had some psychological challenges of his own for he boasted having a special sixth sense with special clairvoyance, hallucinations, and psychic faculties. These abilities, he believed, placed him above his colleagues. This demented tendency singles out Schmid as one who was on the verge of committing an antisocial transgression, provoking a horror similar to an adult’s act of scribbling on bed sheets.

Dylan’s third stanza mentions a magic travelling carpet: “the carpet too is moving under you; And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.” This indication of enchantment and forced capture links Connie’s kidnap by Arnold Friend and parallels Charles Schmid and the violated Tucson girls. Dizziness, mental cloudiness, and powerlessness overwhelm Connie as she realizes her impending destruction. The magic carpet originated in Eastern myth which tells of a legendary carpet conveying its riders to exciting faraway lands. The irony is that the faraway land that Friend promises Connie, as she rides on his magic carpet – his golden automobile – is death. After Friend has ravaged Connie and orders her outside to get in the car, Oates likens his command to an “incantation” which connotes an unbreakable magical spell which bewitches the victim. In 1965, Charles Schmid transported his victims to a distant Arizona desert where, after raping them, buried the girls’ corpses in shallow graves. In the last stanza of “It’s All Over Baby Blue”, the last four lines of the song further connects the real-life experiences of Charles Schmid and the fictional Arnold Friend painting them as the vagabonds who mirrors their victims in dress and behavior to trap and exploit them. The vagabond who’s rapping at your door; Is standing in the clothes that you once wore; Strike another match, go start a new; And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.

Another Bob Dylan song released in 1965, Mr. Tambourine Man, also elicits a Pied Piper following. The chorus echoes, Hey! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me; I’m not sleepy; and there is no place I’m going to ; Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you. The intoxicating music inevitably poisons the mind of the tambourine player’s audience and they tag along after him who was like the Pied Piper.

The article which Oates read in 1966 which pushed her to write this short story was titled, “The Pied Piper of Tucson,” authored by Don Moser on March 4, 1966. Filled with irony, this news headline actually announced the murders of a few teenage girls brutally murdered by Charles Schmid. Most kids know the nursery rhyme/ story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin who lured unsuspecting mice from the towns through his skillful renditions on the flute. In the end, he led the vermin to a river where they drowned and died. However, a grimmer history underwrites this story of The Pied Piper. After being refused compensation for his services, the piper enticed the towns’ children by his magical music and they supposedly disappear without a trace. The Pied Piper wore attractive, colorful clothes and befriended the children by his enthralling music. Likewise, Charles Schmid was a child predator who disguised himself as an adolescent in order to captivate teenage girls. Usually, he deflowered girls before killing them. He dressed as Elvis Presley, an American pop-rock icon, who was the rave in the 1960’s and would alter his image. Charles Schmid went after teenage girls who could not resist his innate attractiveness: he possessed a fine car, dyed his hair jet-black, and filled his shoes to look taller. In the short story,

Arnold Friend also stuffs his boots to improve his relatively short height. Connie observes that when Friend approaches her, his gait is unsteady, since the boots seemed to be stuffed with something. Oates notes that “It was a repressed time…Sexual harassment, sexual politics of all kinds, sex crimes didn’t exist as a category” (Birbaum). The general sexual ignorance and the taboo of sex facilitated the work of pedophile predators like Schmid and Friend for the girls were mostly innocent in the true sense of the word. When the Tucson murder case opened in Tucson, Arizona, it shook all of America. American parents were now more sensitized to sexual crimes and the vulnerability of their children. Arnold Friend and Charles Schmid have the peculiar taste for underaged nubile girls and take advantage of them. “Charles Schmid on 11 November, 1965 was arrested for marrying an under aged fifteen-year old girl on 24 October 1965. As if not coincidentally, Connie, Arnold Friend’s victim, is fifteen years old when she is raped and killed by him. Although Schmid did not kill Diane Lynch, he did rape and murder the Wendy Fritz (thirteen years old), Gretchen Fritz (seventeen years old), and Alleen Rowe (fifteen years old). In the short story, “Where Are You Going; Where Have You Been” the launching lines begin with “Her name was Connie – She was fifteen.” In the story, Friend’s victim was fifteen-year old Connie and in reality, Schmid’s first murder victim was fifteen-year old Alleen Rowe. Both Friend and Schmid, as pedophile predators, choose adolescent girls because of their attractiveness, naïveté, and easy susceptibility. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Arnold Friend ensured that he came equipped with all the fixtures necessary to wheedle the young girls into his car: the automobile’s attractive exterior, his fashion statement, talk, and his name. “It was an open jalopy, painted a bright gold that caught the sunlight.” As soon as Connie saw the brilliant car parked outside with the driver honking, she rushes outside. Like a moth to a flame which attracts and endangers it, a fascinated Connie is drawn to the car, curious and expectant to see a good-looking guy. It is well known that many sexual predators use an attractive car as a ploy in order to ensnare girls and women.

Another powerful connection that binds Arnold Friend with the sinister Pied Piper is vernacular and music. Connie observes that Friend speaks in a “lilting voice,” “a slight rhythmic lilt,” and has a “singsong” manner of speaking which recalls to her mind a popular song of yesteryear. It is not by chance either that she sees a resemblance between his voice and a music disc jockey (DJ). He converses also with Connie about a favorite teenage topic, the popular teen music, throwing names at her like Bobby King. The entire scenario happens with a background of music blaring through the car’s transistor radio. The exact radio program to which she is listening is playing in her victimizer’s car. Friend mirrors teenagers, forging a like identity with them in order to gain trust and acceptance. Lilting is an animated, rhythmic type of music sung by the Celts of Ireland in the absence of instruments. Moreover, Friend ensures that he is abreast of the teenage dialect and mouths the up-to-the-minute phrases that the American youth would employ to communicate among one another. With ease, Friend talks to Commie like a peer; however, in a fit of anger, he blurts a succession of adolescent catch-phrases which he learned. As if in a trance of a fortune-teller or medium, Arnold Friend reveals to Connie where her family was, what they were doing, and who were there at the family barbeque. It seems like Friend had psychic ability to entrance his victims and to peer into the future and omniscient view of the present. “Right now, they’re uh—they’re drinking. Sitting around,’ he said vaguely, squinting as if he were staring all the way to town and over to Aunt Tillie’s back yard. Then the vision seemed to get clear and he nodded energetically.”

To seduce the girls, Friend ascertains that his dress projects style, confidence, and masculine charm. Friend and his cohort both wear sunglasses (posing as a cool guy in the 1960s). Oates reports that, “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.” The trendy gear emphasized Friend’s well-built physique in order to enchant the females into his car to their peril. Popular clothes made Friend an accepted, included element within the adolescent social circles and by extension; they give him some leverage among his girl victims. Another critic, Marie Mitchell Urbanski, suggests that the story is in fact “the framework of a religious allegory-the seduction of Eve” (Mitchell).Eve and Pandora in the theodicy myths stand as both the temptress and the seduced. They both throw the world into confusion because of their willingness to gratify their immediate pleasurable longings and who in the end, pay a high price for their corrupt proclivities. The snake entices Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and then coaxes her husband, Adam to eat of the fruit. As the Sacred Text goes, they both ultimately die as punishment for their transgression. This connection is fitting since it is through the woman’s temptation and seduction that a veritable Pandora’s Box is opened where chaos is unleashed into the world. Oates prefaces the book by showing how much Connie concerns herself with clothes and her appearance. So her predator, like a subtle snake, has to assume an attractive façade which would break down her defenses and open her to attack.

To create a false sense of security, Arnold adopts the last name “Friend” in order to befriend his prey. When Connie hesitates to get into his car Friend asserts, “Don’t you know I’m your friend?” His words eerily voice the theme of Death and the Maiden which bodes ill for Connie. “Death and the Maiden” figures as a prominent theme in the short story since it is redolent with childhood predation. The legend is poeticized by Schubert which goes like this:

Give me your hand, you lovely, tender child I am your friend and bring no harm. Have courage. See, I am not wild. Now go to sleep upon my arm.

Connie, exemplified as he common damsel-in-distress, cries for help but no one hears her. She is brought to her knees, subjected to a twisted man who would overpower her to accomplish his own ends. Like a child, he tries to lull her with lies and false oaths. In the Tucson, Arizona serial murders in 1966, the girls who were killed were all friends and girlfriends of Charles Schmid. For the girls to let their guards down, both sexual predators attempt to foster an ambience of trust and friendship. Oates symbolizes Arnold Friend’s sexual rapacity with his “long nose and hawk-like, sniffing as if she were a treat he was going to gobble up.”Hawks are not only predatory birds but they are also omens of death, witchcraft, and evil – not an optimistic sign for Connie. Hawks have acute vision, just like an eagle. Its sight transcends the normal vision of an average animal. For maximum hunting success, the hawk has a binocular view which can descry a possible victim from a distance.

Oates’ biography and the narrative are inseparably interlaced with one another (Johnson). The neighborhood where Connie resides bears likeness to Oates’ small town dwelling where she grew up as a girl. Oates experienced an average childhood growing up on her parent’s ranch house in Lockport, a small rural New York town from 1938. “Where Are You Going” gives account that Connie lives in an asbestos-ridden ranch house, a place with which Oates would be family since she lived in a rural New York town to poor parents who struggled to survive. The passage also reveals that in order to go to the restaurant or movies that Connie has to be driven for miles to the closer and more modernized town.

Before Oates could talk she would tell stories through her drawings. As time progressed, storytelling became an intrinsic part of her life. In 1953, at the age of fifteen, Oates composed her first novel. This significant age reflects Connie’s. Her novel discussed the rehabilitation of a drug addict of Detroit. However, the book went unpublished because of the grim, unappealing theme for young audiences. Four years before the writing of this short story, Joyce Carol Oates and her husband Raymond Smith move to Detroit to live. The time that they spent there was very eventful where they have a magnified vision of inner city violence, cruelty, crime, and corruption. Oates says, “Moving to Detroit changed my life completely, enduring the extraordinary racial tensions of the city made me want to write directly about the serious social concerns for me” (Oates’ XVI Expensive People). It is noted in history that Detroit had some tumultuous race riots during the 1960s. In this volatile period of change, Oates takes the opportunity to explore an explosive and forced change in the life of Connie, a teenager who is about to cross the threshold into adulthood. Connie’s sexual promiscuity, parental defiance, and cultural preferences mirror not only a typical rebellion American teen but also the 1960’s era. Development is not always a welcome aspect so in Detroit as in America, revolutionary waves are beginning to alter the social landscape of America – nascent modern feminism, the liberal hippie culture, and sexual liberation are aspects intertwined in the text and in the life and times of Joyce Carol Oates. Oates remained in Detroit for 6 years until 1968 when she decides to migrate to Canada to occupy a new position as a university professor. Although Connie and her family do not attend church she religiously tunes in to her favorite radio program named XYZ Sunday Jamboree. This allusion is knit with Detroit’s WXYZ radio station operative in Detroit media broadcasting since 1948. The WXYZ TV media house is a subdivision of the parent company ABC network which thrived in Detroit. The violence, delinquency, and crime which deeply scar Detroit shows up characteristically in Oates’ works “How I Contemplated the World in the Detroit House of Correction” (1969) and demonstrates how influential the Detroit culture impacted Oates and her writings.

A former Catholic, Oates’ has confessed secular, atheistic beliefs are also evident in the short story for Connie’s family does not attend church neither do they claim a spiritual background (Oates’ Humanism and Its Discontents). The story relates that the entire attack happened on a Sunday. Connie awakens at eleven on Sunday morning and “none of them bothered with church.” When Connie swears she irreverently and repeatedly says, “Christ.” God has no meaning in Oates’ life or in Connie and her family’s life. “About the spiritual condition of late twentieth century American Culture, which Oates believes has become a wasteland” (Slimp). Like T.S. Eliot’s ravaged “Wasteland,” manifesting a spiritual decadence, Oates’ story displays a woeful moral degradation of broken, distanced, and predatory relationships with isolated children and careless parents.

Joyce Carol Oates fabricates a masterpiece short story skillfully weaving in elements of her past, American society, culture, music, history, and myth to produce a heterogeneous literary sample of her best work. The tragic Tucson Arizona serial killer and Pied Piper, Charles Schmid, Bob Dylan’s popular music, Detroit, mythology, and Oates’ own biography incorporates more intrigue and allows the reader to penetrate into the mind of the fifteen-year old victim and the adult aggressor.

Works Cited:

Bender, Eileen. Joyce Carol Oates b. 1938. .

Bimbaum, Robert. “Birnbaum v. Joyce Carol Oates.” The Morning News: Black and White and Read All Over. 3 Feb. 2005 .

Johnson, Greg. “Joyce Carol Oates: A Brief Biography.” A Reader’s Guide to the Recent Novels of Joyce Carol Oates 1966.” Excerpt reprinted in Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page. 15 Jul. 2005

< http://www.usfa.edu/fac-staff/southerr/jco.bio.html>

Mitchell Oleson Urbanski, Marie. “Existential Allegory: Joyce Carol Oates’s ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'” Studies in Short Fiction 15.2 (1978): 200-203. Literature Resource Center. Gale Group. 15 Jul. 2005

Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction: Stories and Authors in Context. Eds. Dana Gioia and R. S. Gwynn. New York: Longman, 2001.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Humanism and Its Discontents. The Humanist Journal. November/December 2007.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Elaine Showalter. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been. Rutgers State University, New Jersey, 2002.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Elaine Showalter. Expensive People –The Wonderland Quartet. Editorial Review-Kirkus Publishing, 2006.

Slimp, Stephen. “Oates’s ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'” The Explicator 57.3 (1999):179-181. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. 10 Oct. 2005. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and Smooth Talk:

Short Story Into Film,” The New York Times, March 23, 1986. 10 Oct. 2005. .

Women’s Evolving Role in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

The 1950s brought about a multitude of changes in the culture of the United States: “conservative family values and morals were threatened as the decade came to a close” (Literature and Its Times). What was unthinkable in the 1940s gradually became the norm in the 1950s. In Joyce Carol Oates’ short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, the character Connie represents the clashing of these decades. Having survived World War II, Connie’s mother is still very supportive of the 1940s women’s roles mandated by the male dominated society and the media of the time. Connie, on the other hand, is steadily adopting the more feminist attitude of the time. After American soldiers returned from war, the continued progression of this feminist movement was hardly welcomed with open arms. Instead, women were expected to slip back into their “rightful” places. While some women resisted this regression, many felt obligated to take back up their kitchen mitts and their brooms. Connie’s character and her experiences symbolize this conflict between women and men, women and society, and women and themselves. Oates’s piece defines the scripted roles women had been traditionally occupying in American history, suggests where they are going as a sex, and implies how this evolution will foster conflicts in an unreceptive society.During the time period in which the story is set, “it is [a woman’s] nature to be small and cozy, domestic and weak,” as Margie Piercy describes in her piece, “A Work of Artifice” (lines 12-14). Women were expected to quietly go back to the lives of homemakers after years of working in men’s places during the war. While some women, like Connie’s mother and her sister, June, embrace this reacquired role, others – like Connie – want to explore other possibilities. Connie’s mother is more a proponent of the proper lady, believing Connie should dress more conservatively and behave coyly as opposed to presumptuously or flirtatiously. In her mind, women are domestics who cook, clean, and serve their husbands. Connie’s mother is unsuccessful in passing this role on to Connie, who is more interested in herself and “becoming aware of her own sexuality” (Literature and Its Times 391). She does try to humor her mother, “[e]verything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home…”, but when her mother is not around she is who she believes she wants to be (291). Connie’s mother and her sister June both conform to the ideal attire of the proper woman, the nice conservative Sunday “dress….and high heels”, the typical face of a 50’s women (297). Connie, on the other hand, models the newer styles, “a pullover jersey blouse that looked one way when she was at home and another way when she was away from home…shorts and flat ballerina slippers…with charm bracelets jingling on [her] thin wrist” (291). Connie’s style showed more skin and was more form-fitting; it left less to the imagination than did the attire of her mother and sister. In addition, Connie’s mother would have never snuck away from the mall to see some boys, nor would she have made out with one in public or gone anywhere alone with one. One of Connie’s most frequent hobbies is to have a parent drop her and her friends off at the mall, and then sneak over to the drive-in restaurant across the way, where the older boys hang out. Connie has no reservations about following a boy to his car alone for a dinner date, nor does she have any for shameless flirting or kissing this boy she hardly knows. Connie knows her mother and her sister would not approve, but in a way that is the point; she does not want to be like her mother and her sister. She wants to feel sexy, strong, unattainable, and powerful. It’s evident that she knows what she is doing, her walk alone goes from “childlike and bobbing” to being “languid enough to make anyone think she was hearing music in her head” (291). She is attempting to seduce these boys, whose attention will boost her self-esteem. She feels less like a child and more like a woman when practicing the art of seduction, though this behavior was still widely considered “morally reprehensible” at the time (Literature and Its Times 393). This juxtaposition of the mother’s values versus Connie’s allows Oates to show readers where American women were before the multiple waves of the feminist movements. Oates continues to use Connie to imply to readers the direction to which women could be heading with the feminist movement, which was about achieving equality and women getting to have a say in what they could and could not do, just as men dictated the social norms for themselves. It was about allowing each sex to decide for themselves what their duties should be, how they should be represented, and who their role models should be. It was about men affording to women the same rights and pleasures they had so effortlessly afforded themselves. The feminist movement was about women becoming more independent and in control of their lives and their futures. These were the very ideals Connie pursued. When she is not home she does not feel oppressed by her mother, who is a mere puppeteer of male-dominated culture. She does not have to conform to her ideals or even humor them. She can wear what she wants to wear, act how she wants to act, talk however she wants to whomever she wants. She is free. When she is not under parental supervision she makes her own decisions. She is independent, her own woman. She is not just someone’s wife or mother. She is more than a personal chef and maid. Through Connie’s behavior, Oates relays to the reader where their gender is heading in the future.Heading toward a more egalitarian future unsettles men; some conservative thinkers argued that independent women gradually “unsex” men and that immodest attire such as Connie’s frustrates them and makes them all the more eager to dominate and possess such women. Connie flirts back to men such as Arnold, who expresses his “special interest” in her (295), but quickly realizes she does not want his attention. Connie “gradually dismantl[es her] first impressions” of Arnold, quickly becoming “creeped out,” but she has already dug herself a hole and Arnold knows it (261). Arnold sees her as a repository for his sexual frustrations: “I’ll hold you so tight you won’t think you have to try to get away or pretend anything because you’ll know you can’t. And I’ll come inside you where it’s all secret and you’ll give in to me and you’ll love me” (298). On multiple occasions he asks Connie to come out of the house and away with him, “I ain’t made no plans for coming in that house where I don’t belong but just for you to come out to me, the way you should. Don’t you know who I am?” (299). Connie is not equipped to handle this situation: she is terrified and wants independence, but does not want to handle this on her own. Having been raised in a society that was unreceptive to feminist attitudes, Connie does not possess the tools or knowledge necessary to overcome Arnold’s domination and threats, so she resorts back to the traditional female role and eventually submits to Arnold. Through Connie’s experiences, Oates wants to show where women are going by reminding them of where they had been. Many critics claim that Oates embraces feminism; while that may or may not be the case, perhaps the point of this short story is to warn women to proceed with caution – the independence they sought could become overwhelming, as we have seen the ambitious and often unachievable modern “super woman” ideal take shape. The future for women is still unwritten; the reader cannot know for certain what’s to come. Women are continuously headed to “land… [they’ve] never seen before and [will] not recognize except to know that [they] are going to it” (302).Works CitedBarnet, Sylvan, Morton Berman, William Burto, William E. Cain, and Marcia Stubbs.Literature for Composition Essays, Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Fifth. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.Print. McMahan, Elizabeth, Susan X Day, Robert Funk, and Linda S. Coleman . Literature and the Writing Process. Backpack Edition. Boston: Pearson, 2011. 290-302. Print.“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them. Joyce Moss and George Wilson. Vol. 4: World War II to the Affluent Fifties (1940-1950s). Detroit: Gale, 1997. 391-396. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Short Stories for Students. Ed.Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1.Detroit: Gale, 1997. 257-276. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.