Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

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“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” written by Joyce Carol Oates is an unsettling and incredibly formidable story of a young woman’s loss of innocence during a time of social change, unrest and turbulence. The story’s protagonist is Connie, a self-absorbed, yet beautiful fifteen-year-old girl, who is at odds with not only her family but also the conservative values handed down by society. She, unknowing to her parents, spends her evenings flirting and picking up boys at a local diner while exploring her independence and individuality. One evening she catches the attention of a strange, creepy boy who drives a gold, dilapidated convertible. While alone at home one Sunday afternoon, this same creepy boy driving the gold convertible, along with a friend, pulls up in front of her house. She recognizes the boy from the diner and he introduces himself as Arnold Friend. Initially, the silver-tongued, charismatic stranger intrigues Connie. This intrigue quickly turns to fear as a sense of uneasiness overcomes her. As Arnold continually insists she go for a ride with him, Connie refuses. He becomes more insistent and sinister and ultimately threatens to harm her family if she does not come with him. The story ends as Connie gives in and agrees to go with him; her immediate fate uncertain.

First published in 1966, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” is a story loosely based upon a Life magazine article about Charles Schmid, a manipulative and gruesome serial killer in Tucson, Arizona (Ramsland) who preys upon the innocence of young girls. In addition to the factual events that greatly influenced this short story, Oates was able to draw upon the monumentally historical events that were shaping America when it was written. T...

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...y for years to come making “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” a timeless work of literature.

Works Cited

Anderson, Walt. The Age of Protest. Pacific Palisades, CA: Goodyear Pub., 1969. Print.

"Brief Analysis Of the Counterculture Movement of the 1960s." DocShare - A New Way to Share Documents Online. Web. 06 Aug. 2011.

"Founding of NOW." National Organization for Women (NOW). Web. 06 Aug. 2011.

Joyce Carol Oates." Interview by Razia Iqbal. BBC News - Home. Web. 06 Aug. 2011.

Miller, Paula M. "Joyce Carol Oates." Identities & Issues in Literature (1997): 1. MagillOnLiterature Plus. EBSCO. Web. 6 Aug. 2011.

Ramsland, Katherine. "Charles Schmid, the Pied Piper of Tucson --The Crime Library — Inspiration for Joyce Carol Oates — Crime Library on TruTV.com." TruTV.com: Not Reality. Actuality. Web. 06 Aug. 2011.

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