The story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates is a baffling article because the author creates a critical plot twist that no one could have predicted. Connie was arrogant and conceited because she was gorgeous, and she knew her looks could seduce even the most unsuspecting stranger. Connie was only a teenager, but she had developed herself to appear mature with the capability of attracting even the most seasoned man. One-night Connie was with Eddie but, made eye contact with the perfect subject to test her wiles upon. He was an older man who went by the peculiar name, Arnold Friend. Little did she know the web she wove to entrap the strange man would end up being the start of an obsession based on the man’s fixation of her cunning demeanor.
In this primary situation, the story introduces us to Connie, a gorgeous but ditzy teenager who is very ordinary. Her relationship with her mother is in turmoil and her relationship with her sister isn’t much better. She is the average teenage girl who likes listening to music, watching movies, hanging with her friends, and navigating the world of BOYS. Nothing exciting going on in her life until she meets a man. When Connie first meets Arnold, she doesn’t know who he is; he’s just a creepy guy in a parking lot who makes her feel uncomfortable. Despite that, she is entranced and can’t help but take notice of him. Connie completely forgets about the weird guy until he shows up in her driveway while she is alone at home. Joined by a friend, the stranger, introduces himself as Arnold Friend, asks Connie to come with him for a ride. At this point in the story, Connie is hardly interested and even amused by the outsider in her driveway, although she still lingered in her doorway. When Connie finally realizes how foreshadowing Arnold was, she moves away from the doorway and asks him to leave. But Arnold threatens to hurt her family if she did not proceed to him. Connie decided to rush the phone, within that moment she thought she was safe and a possibility of a happy ending. But she paused and was unable to follow through on the call. When Connie willingly places the phone back on the hook, it was clear that she had picked to accept her consequence to join Arnold Friend to save her family. When Connie finally crosses the threshold, the last image the story gives us is Arnold Friend, surrounded by ” vast sunlit reaches of land.” How we interpret this image determines how we read Connie’s final action, as either an act of self-sacrifice or as defeat.
The style of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” is journalistic in the exaggerating style and goofy structured syntax. Oates’s style allows the story to come to life and become tangible for the readers. Nothing is as it appears to be. Ordinary objects such as Arnold’s sunglasses take on a whole new meaning. Among. Ordinary phrases, as the title suggests, “Where are you going?” or “Where have you been?” take on deeper meaning. They are existential questions about life, ethics, identity, sexuality, and anything else that may haunt the realms of a person’s nightlife.
You must read this book because this story was full of surprises and different emotions. At the beginning of the story Connie was happy and enjoying her teenage life. Towards the end of the story Connie became terrified and uncomfortable. Since she was about to get kidnapped and raped by Arnold’s friend. I feel as if this should have been a lesson to Connie, she was trying to grow up too fast and seemed the wrong attention from the wrong men.
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