Serial killings are not a strange thing in most countries of the world. Various books of history, Internet sites, and old newspaper articles tell of the gruesome details of the murders of people who were unfortunate enough to be the victims of psychopathic murderers. This could have been the inspiration behind ‘Where are you going, where have you been?’ written by Joyce Carol Oates in 1966.
In Joyce Carol Oates fictional short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” the majority of the story lies beneath the surface. More specifically than just the story, you realize that there is more to the character Arnold Friend than what may appear. The author has always remained silent and ambiguous about the real meaning of Arnold Friend’s true nature and she leaves room for the readers to make their own interpretation of him. Readers can analyze Arnold Friend and see him as the devil, he could just be the personification of popular music imagined by Connie in a dream, but Arnold Friend could also be the result of drug use.
Arnold Friend, the antagonist in Joyce Carol Oates’s story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” represents the devil who arrives to bring Connie to the underworld. For example, his unusual appearance implies that he is an inhuman being, unlike what he wants to lead on. As he struggles to walk from his car to the front door, Connie notes that “his whole face was a mask... tanned down to his throat...as if he had..makeup on..but had forgotten about his throat”(5). Arnold Friend covers his demonic features in order to pass as a teenager with the intention of deceiving Connie into leaving with him.
In Joyce Carol Oates’s short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” the main protagonist finds herself in a very hostile situation. With an all most fateful encounter with a man known as Arnold Friend. Forcing her to choose whether to run off with him or taking her by force. This man known as Arnold Friend to the reader comes off as almost a demon. A person who uses many temptations, word play, and threats to take advantage of the young protagonist Connie.
However, this is countered when Connie notes that “he was much older—thirty, maybe more” (315), a fact that frightens her. What Arnold is to Connie is a challenge of her want to be an adult, and a trail of her ability to deal with adult issue. Such as a man who singles her out sexual reason. Her wish to be an adult is something she seeks while passively avoiding it. Her avoidance is marked by day dreams of puppy love romance, like a typical teenager; yet, her attractive flaunt to be mature is presented as if she seeks to be an
She sees the boys who give her attention as subjugations who “dissolve into a single face that was not even a face but an idea” (Oates 675). But soon enough her dreams and music materialize into the shape of Arnold Friend. Arnold Friend is described as a muscular, older, and mysterious character. He seems to be a work of her imagination as he is ultimately an idea she created that would fit into her perfect fantasy world. Connie is defenseless to Arnold Friend’s manipulations mainly because she has no visible identity of her own.
Joyce Carol Oates uses physical characterization to foreshadow early on what truly is going to happen to Connie. Arnold is hiding things about his physical appearance. No matter what Connie says or does, Arnold keeps talking, and yet he reveals nothing about himself. He never physically asks Connie to join him, but his words have the same force and pull as the actions he only threatens to take. "Soon
In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” there are many theories as to who Arnold Friend is and what his role. The story does not introduce Arnold till the middle and end of the story when Arnold Friend and Ellie Oscar, his friend, decides to pull up to Connie’s house trying to be gentle, but threatening at the same time. The tone sets the mood of the story, the way he talks is suave, so he doesn’t scare her as much but you could sense a little of annoyance in his voice when she refuses. He asks her to come ride with him, but then starts to threaten her family so she would get out the house and be with him.
Throughout the story, there are many instances: the illogical time and settings, the similarity between Arnold and Connie and the unrealistic events show that the meeting between Connie and Arnold Friend is a dream. The dream is also a preparation for Connie before she steps onto the stage of being an adult. Connie’s dream begins when she refuses to go to her aunt’s house for barbecue party. She stays home, and under the warmness of the sun, she begins her day dreaming about love and the boy she has met the night before. In the beginning, the author writes “Connie sat with her eyes closed in the sun…”
This literary piece undoubtedly is an allusion to a religious allegory and also a representation of contemporary events. There are several examples in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” that would relate it to a religious allegory. Arnold Friend is a seemingly mysterious character that possess almost all knowing information about Connie. When Friend arrives at her house, he knows her name without Connie ever mentioning it to which she replies “I never said my name was Connie” (Oates 163). Arnold is also knowledgeable about who Connie associates with, “your best girl friends name is Betty… Betty Shultz and Tony Fitch and Jimmy Pettinger and Nancy Pettinger” (Oates 163-164).
Connie was unable to see the men's true personality until they removed their glasses, which like Connie, a person who has multiple sides. They use similar expressions throughout the story, for example, “Christ” and the use of the word “dope” this further links the two characters personalities. At the end of the story, after Arthur stops Connie from calling the police, she willingly joins the two men. This shows Connie ignoring her superego- calling the police- to succumb to her id (8, 9). Connie once asks, “how come we never saw you before?” to which Arthur replies, “Sure you saw me before… You just don’t remember” these lines also illustrate the tendency for a person to repress their ultimate desires (5).
Instead of realizing the danger that she was in, Connie was focused on what Arnold Friend was wearing and how attractive he was. Connie’s obsession with finding her own sexuality overpowered her gut feeling of danger. In an analysis of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”, Barbara Wiedemann discusses how the antagonist Arnold Friend is based upon serial killer Charles Schmid, who murdered several young girls during the 1960s. In the analysis, Wiedemann
The short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” was written by the author Joyce Carol Oates in 1966. Oates describes her idea for the story after briefly reading an article about the real-life murderer, Charles Schmid, who lured and murdered three teenage girls (Kirszner & Mandell 523). She uses this idea to create the character, Arnold Friend, and his victim, Connie. Connie is a typical teenage girl portrayed as naïve and self-centered. The short story appears realistic, given that the conflict in the story is based off of real events.
Connie uses her attitude and appearance to attract boys. But she is not aware of the reality of the society in which she lives. Connie is living in a fantasy world, but when she gets trapped by Arnold Friend she is put into a scary reality. There
In the story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates the outcome and the meaning relies solely on the reader. For some it’s a riveting fight between good and evil and for others it’s a sordid tale of seduction and loss of innocence. Connie and Arnold Friend represent the struggle between good and evil. Oates’s mixture of literal, figurative, psychological and allegorical makes this a great and suspenseful tale. Oates unmasked Arnold Friend as a satyr which is a demi-god from Greek and Roman mythology.