Analysis of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

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Hurst 1

Allison Hurst
Professor Ben Mayo
English Comp II
30 April 2011
Analysis of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
In 1966, Joyce Carol Oates published her short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. Oates was inspired to write this story after reading about a serial killer that was referred to as “The Pied Piper of Tucson”. Oates was disturbed by the number of teenagers that this killer was able to persuade to help him and keep his secrets (Oates 1). Oates uses irony, imagery, and symbolism to support her theme of evil in this short story.

Oates starts off by introducing the story’s 15 year old protagonist, Connie. Connie is symbolic of innocence and good. However, Connie has two sides. At home, she acts a particular way and when she is away from her family, she acts another. Connie is in a rush to grow up, like many teenagers. Part of the apprehension in the story is the reader’s realization “that there must be thousands of Connie’s” in the world (Wegs 1). Unfortunately for Connie, her desire to grow up too fast along with her naivety allows her to seal her own fate with evil. Connie’s friend’s father drops them off at the mall, though they do not intend to stay at the mall after they are dropped off. Their plan is to go across the street to the drive-in where the older kids hang out. The diner is used as symbolism for a church or “sacred building” that was there to give the kids the “haven…[and] blessings they yearned for” (Oates 470). Oates uses imagery to give the diner a sense of evil by describing it as “fly-infested”, which could make the reader think of a decomposing corpse (Oates 470). Oates uses grotesque or “realistic allegory” between good and evil throughout the story (Oates 1). Hurst 2

Arnold Friend, the antagonist, is introduced to us at the diner. Arnold Friend symbolizes the devil or the evil in this story. He watches Connie as she is leaving with another boy. Connie...
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