Where Are You Going, Where HaveYou Been. The
Where Are You Going, Where Have You BeenWhere Are You Going, Where Have You Been, is one of the many short stories written by Mrs. Joyce Carol Oates that has become highly recognized.
It was inspired by a magazine story about a serial killer. It quickly it became very popular andwas even the basis for the 1985 hit movie, SmoothTalk. Like many other short stories and novels written by Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been is a story that is consumed by evil, the theme.
In the story evil is projected through the eyes of the characters.(Weinberger 207) Joyce Carol Oates has been labeled by many as a, writer of psychological realism(Wegs 69), which is seen in this story. Tied in with the theme are three particular literary elements that interlink all of the scattered details, leaving the readers in awe at the end of the narrative. The three literary elements contributing to the short story are irony, imagery and symbolism. Irony is an important element in Where Are You Going, Where HaveYou Been.
The title itself is ironic since it is two questions that Connie is never asked. No one has ever asked, where she was going, nor has anyone ever inquired where she has been.(sullivan 535) What is also ironic is that although she is the victim in this tale, she actually welcomes and invites this demonic provocation.(Hurly 64) Her fears that have always overtaken he subconscious self drive her into distorted separation of mind and body in which sher ealizes that her unconscious self has betrayed her.(Wegs 70) Something else somewhat ironic is when Arnold Friend says, Ill hold you so tight you wont think you have to try to getaway or pretend anything because youll know youcant.Oats 460), he is also referring in a sense that his hold is the same as the hold that nature has over life.(Wegs 71) In this particular short fiction, the comfortable details of Connies life ironically become frightening later as she discovers that her lover also wears a face of lust, evil, and death.
(Hurly 64) At this point as she is standing in her doorway the flimsy screen door that did serve as a teasing barrier, coincidentally becomes a means of protection from Arnold Friend.(Gillis 66)Imagery in the short story also plays a significant role behind the characters and their words true meaning. The author implies corrupted religious imagery suggesting that modern gods have somewhat replaced traditional religion. “She emphasizes illusions of false values which arise from obsession with modern culture like media, music and movies.(Dessommes 435) Oates delineates the moral poverty of Connie, her fifteen-year-old protagonist, by imaging a typicalevening Connie spends at a drive-in restaurant as a grotesquely parodied religious pilgrimage.(Wegs 74) Mrs.Oates paints the perfect picture in the minds of her readers who are not the least bit suspicious about what will soon happen.
Quoted from the book, Variation on an American Hymn, in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Arnold Friend is created out of the stock images of rock-and-roll songs, but his idealized imageis violated by limitations imposed by real life, that dreams do not come true and that anyone purporting to be teenage idol should be checked for a receding hairline. This short story is filled with the imagery of lifes deceptions and perils. The symbolism behind the tale, in my opinion, accounts for most of the evil within it. Most symbolic is the character, Arnold Friend. He has all of the qualities that a young lover would.
He speaks the slang, he has the right clothes andhe drives the right car. Everything seems right at first glance, but after a few minutes those qualities fall apart one by one, willingly revealing his true self.(Robson 99) She notices his shaggy black hair that is, as crazy as a wig, really is a wig. Then she notices that a thick coat of makeup has created the mask-like appearance of his face: however his throat, free of makeup, is still bare. Even his eyelashes seem to have been made up!(Weinberger 210) Although Connie approved of his clothing, she noticed something quite disturbing about Arnold Friend.
As he walked she noticed that his boots were stuffed so that he would appear taller! She noticed when he staggered and in an attempt to bow he almost fell over.(Hurley 66) She also observes that one of the teen slang phrases on his gold “jalopy” is not in sync with the others. His words even begin to sound like they were stolen from a radio disc jockey and the songs they play.(Harty) His friend Ellie Oscar is just as creepy as he is, only speaking to offer threatening assistance.
At this point symbolism begins to intervene with the persona of Arnold Friend. Not only does he possess all the qualities of a psychopathic murderer posing as a teenager, but he also holds all of the conventional ominous traits of the arch-deceiver,and horror of the devil. And like Satan usually is,Arnold Friend is in disguise.(Dessommes 437) Perhaps the misrepresentation of his appearance and behavior hint at his true self. Also, when he honked the horn, maybe it was symbolic for the “second coming” of Arnold as if it were a demonic “day of judgment.” (Hurly 66) He also announces himself stressing that he is Arnold Friend, which is awkwardly close to ” Arch Fiend.
” Not to mention he also possesses supernatural knowledge about Connie, her family and her friends. When Arnold Friend assures Connie that he will not come in after her, this could possibly be figurative for his established role as evil, maybe he can not cross the threshold uninvited.(Dessommes 437) He has come from nowhere to take her away to hell.
As I mentioned before, irony, imagery, and symbolism all come together in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” to create and maintain the image of evil. Whether or not one portrays Arnold Friend as the devil or just a psychopathic killer, the short story is still a shocking, tragic tale of what happens when reality takes a pitfall into sin and immortality, producing an irrepressible fate.(Hurly 375)Bibliography:References:primary source ” Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” Joyce Carol Oatessecondary source packet ” The Pied Piper”Nancy Bishop DessommesO’Connor’s Mrs. May and Oates’s Connie: An Unlikely Pair of Religious Initiates.Studies in Short FictionSummer 1994, v31 n3 p433-40D. F.
HurleyImpure Realism: Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”Studies in Short FictionSummer 1991, v28 n3 p371-75G. J. WeinbergerWho is Arnold Friend? The Other Self in Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”American ImagoSummer 1988, v45 n2 p205-15C. Harold HurleyCracking the Secret Code in Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”Studies in Short FictionWinter 1987, v24 n1 p62-6Mark B.
RobsonJoyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Arnold Friend as Devil, Dylan, and LevitePublications of the Mississippi Philological Association1985, p98-105Mark RobsonOates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”ExplicatorSummer 1982, v40 n4 p59-60Christina Marsden Gillis”Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”: Seduction, Space, and a Fictional ModeStudies in Short FictionWinter 1981, v18 n1 p65-70Kevin J. HartyArchetype and Popular Lyric in Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”Pennsylvania English1980-81, v8 n1 p26-28Joyce M. Wegs”Don’t You Know Who I Am?”: The Grotesque in Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”Journal of Narrative TechniqueJanuary1975, v5 n1, p66-72Walter SullivanWhere Have All the Flowers Gone?: The Short Story in Search of ItselfSewanee ReviewSummer 1970, v78 n3 p535-537online sources Encarta.comCornell university online