Comparison of Smooth Talk to “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

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Comparison of Smooth Talk to “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

Joyce Carol Oakes’s short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” was written in 1966 and twenty years later was made into a movie entitled Smooth Talk, winner of the 1985 U.S. Film Festival for best dramatic picture. The writing by Oates is loosely based on a true story described as “the tale of Charles Schmid, a twenty-three-year-old who cruises teenage hangouts, picking up girls for rides in his gold convertible” (Johnson 160). I say “loosely based” since the author purposely omits facts that she has read in newspaper and magazine articles, facts that would lend humanness to the demonic nature of a man she has cleverly and ironically named Arnold Friend. The producer of Smooth Talk, as is often the case, also takes detours from the road of reality by further developing the characters of Connie’s mother, father and older sister, June. The reader/viewer might have a tendency to question then just what is true and what is not; it hardly matters, since both are a departure from the truth. The movie’s and the story’s description of young Connie are similar. Connie is described by the author as an attractive fifteen year old who “had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors” (Oates 148) and who wore clothing “that looked one way when she was home and another way when she was away from home” (Oates 149). The movie, starring blonde Laura Dern as Connie, depicts a teen who glances frequently in store-shop windows to view her image, a young person with “two things on her mind, boys and how she looks” (Smooth Talk cover).
While the physical characteristics seem similar, however, the description of Connie’s sexual nature differs, playing an important part in the development of the final scenes of both the story and the movie. While the writer of Smooth Talk portrays Connie as a flirt and a tease, she, nevertheless, resists going “all the way” with the



Cited: Johnson, Greg. “Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates”, 1998. 135. Literature and the Writing Process. 9th ed. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle River, NJ: 1999. 160-161. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Literature and the Writing Process. 9th ed. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice, 1999. 148-159. Rubin, Larry. “Explicator” 42, 1984: 57-59. Literature and the Writing Process. 9th ed. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle, NJ: 1999. 161-162. Winslow, Joan D. “Studies in Short Fiction” 17, 1980. 262-268. Literature and the Writing Process. 9th ed. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle, NJ: 1999. 162-163.

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