Category: Analysis

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Joyce Carol Oates’ short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” exposes two sides: an offender’s tenacity in coming up with tricky plans to lure the victim and the victim’s weakness and naïveté in handling the situationposed by the offender. Through the literary devices of symbolism and point of view, Oates is able to expose how Friend traps Connie in various ways to satisfy his purpose. In the 1960s, most children did not get proper enlightenment about crimes; children were innocent and easily targeted by offenders.


Arnold Friend had investigated thoroughly regarding Connie’s background and family. Friend was the older guy that Connie had spent hours with the night before. At the time, Friend had started to like Connie and followed her around. In his enthusiasm of finding out things about Connie, Friend gathered every detail he could about Connie and her family. After seeing her that night, he went by Connie’s house one day to invite her to go riding in his car saying, “I know your name and all about you, lots’ of things, I took a special interest in you, such a pretty girl, and found out all about you-like I know your parents and sister are gone somewhere 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?” (487). He knew that Connie’s parents and sister went off to her aunt’s barbeque, leaving Connie home alone.

To tempt Connie to submit to his carefully thought out plans, Friend got a car to use for his crime. He repainted the car red to make it look more inviting. Friend’s repainting of the car may also be seen as a destruction of evidence from his past or future crimes. A hit song also played from the radio as a bait to lure Connie. Friend and his party were around 30 to 40 years old so they tried to trick Connie into thinking that they were about her age by being in with the current popular music of Connie’s generation. Friend put stuff in his shoes to make him seem taller and placed his sunglasses on his head as if he were wearing a wig. They tried out several well thought out plans and preparations to lure Connie into going with them.

Eventually, Friend threatened Connie after she refused to go for a ride. Connie attempted to call the police, but Friend told her that he will come inside her house the moment she touches the phone. After all, the screen door was notstrong enough to hinder Friend from going inside. He also described in vivid detail how a fire would cause her to “run into [Friend’s] arms.” Connie froze in terror. In this part, Friend was not embarrassed at all. The reader can easily guess that he was very professional and composed. Definitely, it was not his first time doing such crimes. Friend and his party convinced Connie that they can bring her outside without breaking the door or using any forceful method. The story depicts Connie’s innocence and weakness against evil. Connie cannot get rid of evils herself. At the time, Connie had no family to protect her, no neighbors she could call nearby, not enough time to wait for the police, and no home security system to depend on. Innocent and weak, Connie had no way to escape. When Eddie saw Connie the night before, he immediately made her his target and, conversely, she became one of his victims.


“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a line that Friend is more likely to speak of. Friend says this many times in the book. He is telling Connie that she is his lover; she just doesn’t know it yet. When Friend chose to have Connie, she was already in his possession because she was almost perfect for the crime. Friend and his party carefully laid out their plans, which enabled them to keep doing their crimes. Innocent children, on the other hand, never get out from their traps. Connie was already assumed to be Friend’s lover because Friend absolutely knew he could get her easily, only Connie doesn’t know about it. Connie was the perfect victim. This is why the book’s is entitled “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” In her short story, Oates shows a version of reality when it came to adult men who prey on young, innocent girls. The story focused on the innocence of children.

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