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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been Essay

The first line of Oates literary work “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” indicates that the conclusion to Connie’s existence may have come to a terrible end. In the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” written by Joyce Carol Oates, the story takes you on a journey through the eyes of a helpless girl, who, as shown by the three opening words, came to a very unfortunate collapse. This particular literary work is not only captivating in the way that it is able to clench and firmly hold the reader’s attention, but also has endless references to popular fables of and before our time.

Citing only a few, “Where Have You Been, Where Are You Going” not only makes references to Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and Death and a Maiden, but it also has endless references to the Bible in its depiction of evil and Satan. (Schoomp) The literary works main character Connie is an alluring teenager living in a world of neglect and is easily fooled by someone who she was probably attracted to in the beginning. Connie had somewhat of a slight abnormal obsession with her appearance, and the mirror was in fact her best friend.

Oates gives endless homage to the teenage lifestyle during this time. The 1960’s, sexuality, outer appearance, drive-in hangouts, and the post war atmosphere was a major influence on teens. (Oates) During the beginning of the story, we learn that Connie’s hair is in fact blonde. Coincidentally, another similarity to that of the fairytale character Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red Riding Hood is tricked by the villain in her story just like Connie, and when she learns of the villain’s schemes and trickery, it is ultimately too late.

This story, like that of “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been” also comes to a bad conclusion, because Red Riding Hood is thus eaten, and very clear hints are given that Connie might be raped and killed. The way each of the characters demise played out was so unexpected, that in turn it gave the story such an intense climax. The last question left at the conclusion of each tale is, was Little Red Riding Hood ever cut out of the wolf’s belly and rescued or could Connie have ultimately escaped?

These two became fooled by those whom they consider a “friend”. (Oates) Speaking of friends, not too much longer as we learn about her character and her family the stories villain then enters the scene. Arnold Friend, what he titles himself, has many similarities to that of the wolf in the fable The Three little Pigs. One particular note is when Arnold is standing at Connie’s door and he says, “Why lock the door it’s just a screen door, it’s nothing but a cardboard box that I can knock down at anytime.

That particular line in the story reference’s the three pigs because, the wolf says he will huff and puff and blow their houses down. Although the reference is vague, each of these two stories came to two very different ends. (Schoomp) The last reference to fables would be that of Death and Maiden, a very interesting piece of work or play rather, by Ariel Dorfman. In his depiction, a woman believes that a stranger who unexpectedly arrives at her home is a doctor who raped and tortured her at one point.

Two clear references could be seen from that brief description alone. The rape and torture, Arnold Friend describes how and where and even what he was going to do to Connie, like that of Death and Maiden. The unexpected visit he paid to Connie at her home which was also like that of Death in Maiden. Each character is somewhat skeptical and frightened of the men or strangers so to speak, which causes a kind of inner pleasure in the villains. (Oates) ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” is probably one the best literary works I have ever read.

The Protestant references of the devil, and how Protestants at that time referred to Satan in terms of an old friend, could be seen if the letters in Arnold’s name were rearranged. Also, how musical seduction was a constant theme throughout the story and homage to The Pied Piper of Tuscan who seduced and killed small children. The story was a joy to read and the movie will be even more of a delight to watch. The content was so in-depth, scary, and creepy all at the same time, that when describing Arnold’s appearance, it puts somewhat of a shiver over the reader.

This literary work lets you know his feet have the appearance of hooves like Satan. His ability to know exactly what Connie’s family was doing and who they were with as though he could actually see it was beyond mysterious and frightening within it-self. Even though she eventually does ride off with Arnold Friend, the question on everyone’s mind lingering, is did she live, unlike the true characters the story’s based on , did she escape, or was she just one of the many other victims who were ultimately found in a ditch beyond the open fields?


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