Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Analysis Essay

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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Analysis Essay

By | September 2008
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The decline of the societal and cultural values during 1960s can be seen through Joyce Carol Oates’, “Where are you going, Where have you been?” The story, which narrates the fatal destiny of fifteen year old Connie, shows the rise of a pop-culture/music guided society, it also shows the rise of the sexual revolution and the disregard for women, and the negligence of parents at the time. In the story the devil is represented by ARNOLD FRIEND, who at the end of the story seduces Connie into her own doom. Connie meets Friend at a fly-infested restaurant, fly-infested symbolizing lack of morality.

Music was a huge part of the story. Happiness would not come to Connie by spending time with her family, or by going out her friends, happiness only came to Connie when she heard “the” music. An example of this can be found when Connie was leaving with Eddie, “her face gleaming with joy that had nothing to do with Eddie or even this place; it might have been the music.” Carol Oates tries to show that Arnold, the devil or evil, used the music to invade Connie’s life. Through out the story, Arnold used riming and used phrases used in songs of the time. As in when he called Connie “My sweet little blue-eyed girl,” making reference to Bob Dylan’s song. The character Ellie Oscar, Arnold’s companion, makes reference to the rise in importance of the pop-culture. The name Ellie signifies the popular singer Elvis Presley, and Oscar a connection to the highest award possible in the pop-culture world.

The sexual context of the story suggests the negative criticism of Oates towards the sexual revolution. One of the characters in the story is Pettinger girl, whose name includes the word petting, referring to the touching between people that causes sexual pleasure. The number code on Arnold’s car, 33 19 17, when added gives the number 69 which is a sexual connotation. The phrase “hot-dogs cooked out bursting” is also a sexual connotation. The writing on the left rear fender had...
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