Joyce Carol Oates' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Joyce Carol Oates' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Lockport, New York. She started writing very young and that the age of fifteen she submitted her first novel, but it was rejected for being 'too dark';. This style of writing is common on many of her works including 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'; Oates graduated from Syracuse University and then went on to get her master's degree from the University of Wisconsin. Oates 'turned much often in her writing to everyday characters, which she often placed in situations that were both psychologically and socially terrifying.'; (Short Stories For Students 258) Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is based on a killer in the southwest names Charles 'Smitty'; Schmid was charged of rape and murder of three young girls in the fall of 1965 in Tucson, Arizona. 'Oates wrote the story after hearing Dylan's song 'Its All Over Now, Baby Blue'; Oates also has dedicated the story to Dylan which has brought about a fair amount of mystery and speculation. (Joyce Carol Oates, Raines)

Connie, a fifteen year old girl who likes to go off and have fun with her friends, meet and dream about boys and the idea of a perfect life and relationship is the main target of a clever malicious stalker, a man who intends to kidnap, rape and murder her. 'She (Connie) is caught between her roles as a daughter, friend, sister, and object of sexual desire uncertain of which one represents the real her.'; (Short Stories For Students 259) Creighton writes 'Oates captures so well the viciousness, cheapness and narcissism of life for Connie and her friends who have nothing better to do than to stroll up and down a shopping center plaza looking for excitement.'; Connie is blind to the real world which surrounds her and ironically enough, it leads to her death. She opens up herself too much to life and believes nothing will ever hurt her. The music and movies she enjoys are her ideals of how her life will be for her in the future.

Connie is first aware of Arnold Friend when she is out on a date and she noticed a 'a boy with black hair and a gold 'jalopy'-a beat up sports car- staring at her.'; (White) Death and the Maiden was the original name for this story. Oates chose that to 'allocate the fatal attraction of death (or the devil) for a young woman who is seduced b...

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...e, anytime, danger can come around. We all have sympathy for Connie in the fact that she cannot see what is going to happen to her, and Arnold Friend takes on the roll of a person we have all learned to hate. We can now see the greater meaning of 'it can happen to anyone';.

Sources Cited

Creighton, Joanne V. Contemporary Literary Criticism Volume 19. Pgs. 348-51. Gale Research Company. Detroit, Michigan. 1981.

Collins, Stephanie. Devilish Qualities Of Friend Apr. 24, 1998. Apr. 19, 1999. Online


Oates, Joyce Carol. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? An Introduction To Literature Eleventh Edition. Longman Publishing New York. 1997.

Piwinski, David J. Explicator Volume 49, Number 3, Spring 1991. Heldreff Publishing. Washington, DC. 1991.

Raines, Linda F. Joyce Carol Oates Online Posting. 1996. Apr. 22, 1999.

Short Stories for Students. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Volume 1. Pgs. 257-276. Gale Publishing, Detroit Michigan. 1997.

White, Terry. Allegoric Evil, Existential Choice In O'Connor, Oates, and Styron Pittsburgh State University 1993. April 23 1999. Expanded Abstracts.