Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been English Research Paper

1365 words - 6 pages

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
In certain cases, especially in one of Joyce Carol Oates most renowned pieces of writing,
you’d wish you had never left home. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a
modern classic short story written by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates decided to dedicate the short
story to Bob Dylan after hearing his song, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. His song was Oates
inspiration to the most anthologized of all of her works, based on a real-life serial killer in the
1960’s, Charles Schmid. Oates modeled her realistic story after the real people and events, into a
powerful imaginary work of fiction (Quirk 413). Oates purpose was for the reader to be able to
identify the parallels between the magazine reports of the real life criminal and her story
representing the death of an American Dream (Quirk 413.)
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is centered around a fairly ordinary
fifteen-year old protagonist on the edge of adulthood, named Connie. While Connie is in search
of finding her place in the world, she often challenges her parents, but mainly her mother. She
scolds her mother for always being in favor of her older sister’s side, June. Connie’s mother was
pretty like she was once upon a time, but is no longer, which leads to feelings of envy and hatred
toward’s her daughter’s conceitedness. One thing Connie enjoyed that her mom didn’t object to
was going to the shopping plaza with her sister June and her girl friends. The father of one of
Connie’s best girl friends would drive the girls three miles to town and drop them off where they
could walk through the stores, or go see a movie. Like a usual teenager, she loves pushing things
to the limit. Sometimes Connie and her friends would cross the highway to go to a drive-in
restaurant where older kids hung out. One summer night she is out with some of her friends at
the drive-in restaurant and catches the eye of a boy sitting in a gold Jalopy with the letters 33,19,
and 17 on the side of his car. Oates never clarifies the code’s meaning or significance, but Arnold
Friend does announce that the number “are a secret code” (Hurley 62). Their eyes meet only
meet for just a moment, then Connie leaves and doesn’t see the boy again for the rest of the
The following Sunday afternoon her parents and sister leave the house to go to her Aunt’s
barbecue. Connie’s mother allowed her to stay home, so she stayed back to wash her hair and
listen to the radio. She was in her room when she heard a car rolling up the long gravel driveway,
but she knew it couldn’t be her family back so soon. She peered out the window in her bedroom
to see the gold jalopy with two teenagers inside. She walked down to screen door in the kitchen
to meet the driver, whom introduced himself as Arnold Friendly and his passenger Ellie. Connie
suddenly realizes Arnold Friendly was the same person she had locked eyes with the night before
at the drive-in restaurant. His companion Ellie was...

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