AP 12 Essay 2
The short story, “Where Are You Going,
Where Have You Been?” written by Joyce Carol Oates starts off by introducing
Connie, a typical 15-year-old girl with a lot of family and life based issues. The
plot of this story focuses on the threat of sexual violence. We can see that
Oates developed the antagonist of the story, Arnold Friend, as a manipulative
older man who targeted a young woman for her youth and beauty. There are three themes to this story, good vs.
evil, not to trust strangers and always try to be on a good or positive page
with your family, because you never know when you will see them next. Carol
Oates presents a view of a real event in such a way that makes the reader
question themselves. She uses images, symbols, archetypes, allegories, and
archetypal characters to represent danger and to personify the fear that Oates
suggested that is within us all regardless of if we acknowledge it or not.
In the story, the allegory refers to
Death and the Maiden where death is played by Arnold Friend who seduced the
maiden who was played by Connie. The seduction was first through charm but once
that failed it turned into violence. “She cried out, she cried for her mother,
she felt her breath start jerking back and forth in her lungs as if it were
something Arnold Friend were stabbing her with again and again with no
tenderness,” (page 482). As you can see just from this one quote, violence was
inflicted during the act of which seems to be a rape to keep Connie from
calling the police and to have a hold on her mentally and physically.
The nature of good and evil can be
categorized as an archetype for the story. Arnold Friend was evil while Connie
was good. “Soon as you touch the phone I don’t need to keep my promise and can
come inside. You won’t want that.” (page 479). This quote represents that evil
can pose as an ordinary man which in this case is Arnold. Connie sees him as an
evil figure who is so terrifying and unforgettable. Arnold Friend symbolizes
strongly to Satan who is the enemy of god. His name is close to the devil’s
traditional titles “an old fiend.”
Arnold’s car symbolizes his whole
persona. The car is in disguise: it is painted gold and covered with teenaged
slogans but like its owner’s disguise, the car’s camouflage is not perfect
which creates an alert to Connie that something isn’t right. His license plate
is also a symbol that represents the biblical verse Judges 19:17, “He slide out
just as carefully, planting his feet firmly on the ground, the tiny metallic
world in his glasses slowing down like gelatin hardening and in the midst of it
Connie’s bright green blouse. “This here is my name, to begin with,” he said.
ARNOLD FRIEND was written in tarlike black letters on the side, with a drawing
of a round grinning face that reminded Connie of a pumpkin, except it wore a
real name and I’m gonna be your friend, honey and inside the car’s Ellie Oscar,
he’s kind of shy.” Ellie brought his transistor radio up to his shoulder and
balanced I there. “Now these numbers are a secret code, and raised his eyebrows
at her to see what she thought of that, but she didn’t think much of fit,”
(page 474). This direct quote says it all from how Arnold’s car symbolizes
himself to having his license plate which represents the biblical verse Judges
19:17. “When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man
asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”
The home is one of the main symbols in
the story due to all the action that occurs in and around the doorway. Connie’s
home symbolizes the world she has always been in and known. Her home, like her
family, cannot protect her from the outside threat of Arnold Friend, who cannot
physically intrude into the home sphere, only to seduce Connie away from it
once again. “I mean, anybody can break through a screen door and glass and wood
and iron or anything else if he needs to, anybody at all and specially Arnold
Friend. If the place got lit up with a fire honey you’d come running out into
my arms, right into my arms and safe at home like you knew I was your lover
and’d stopped fooling around.” (Page 480).
Connie’s ideas about love and
relationships come from bubble gum pop songs. Arnold exploits music in order to
appear connected to the younger teenagers he preys on. “And Connie paid close
attention herself, bathed in a glow of slow-pulsed joy that seemed to rise
mysteriously out of the music itself and lay languidly about the airless little
room, breathed in and breathed out with each gentle rise and fall of her
chest,” (Page 473).
The last archetype is representing Connie
trying to be grown which then caused her punishment to be death by Arnold
Friend which involves the loss of her innocence. “Connie had long dark blond
hair that drew anyone’s eye to it, and she wore part of it pulled up on her
head and puffed out and the rest of it she let fall down her back. She worse a
pull-over jersey blouse that looked one way when she was at home and another
way when she was away from home. Everything about her had two sides to it, one
for home and one for anywhere that was not home: her walk that could be
childlike and bobbing, or languid enough to make anyone think she was hearing
music in her head her mouth which was pale and smirking most of the time, but
bright and pink on these evenings out, her laugh which was cynical drawling at
home- “Ha, ha, very funny”-but high-pitched and nervous anywhere else, like the
jingling of the charms on her bracelet.” (page 470).
In all, you can see that Joyce Carol
Oates developed this short story with a lot of stuff that feeds off of each
other. She used archetypes, allegories, and symbols to explain and represent
her overall theme of the story which was the battle between good vs. evil.
MLA WORKSITED PAGE
Oates, Joyce Carol .
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”. Joyce Carol Oates , 1966.
Shulz, G. (n.d.). From In
Fairyland Without a Map: Connie’s Exploration Inward in Joyce Carol Oates’s
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”.