Carol Oats' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?


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The story "Where are You Going, Where Have You Been" written by Carol Oats is about a girl who flaunts her beauty which ultimately leads to her abduction. After the story is read the question is, was the author trying to show Connie's situation as fate or free will? The situation Connie got herself in was caused by free will. Connie's character played a big role in what ultimately happened to her. Connie's actions could give people bad ideas about her, and Connie does leave her house without physical force.
Connie's character plays a big role in what ultimately happens to her. Connie is a vain girl that thinks the way you look is everything. She plays the stereotypical part for girls in today's society. She thinks that as long as you are pretty and dress a certain way then you are everything. This comes across when Oates writes "Connie thought that her mother preferred her to June because she was prettier" (980). By flaunting her looks she could easily give a guy like Arnold Friend perverted ideas about her. It could make them see her as easy, which he did.
Connie's personality also had two sides to it. The side she displayed at home is mocking and sneering, and the side she displayed in public made her look trashy. It seemed that she didn't know who she was or what she wanted to be. All she let us know is that she wanted "the caress of love," she wanted someone to be "sweet, gentle, the way it was in movies and promised in songs" (Oates 980). This could have been why she did not put up much of a fight at the end and walked straight into Arnold's arms. It seemed almost like this was what she wanted and what she had been dreaming about.
Connie's actions also played a big role in her abduction. Connie liked to go out and hang out with guys. She liked to hang out with different guys, not the same one every night. Guys talk about girls like this and spread nasty rumors about them. These rumors probably did not escape the ears of Arnold Friend. So even before he saw Connie for the first time he probably had the idea that she was easy. He said as much towards the end of the story when he started naming people she knew and telling her that they told him things about her (Oates 983).

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This could have peaked Arnold's interest in her because he thought she was an easy target. Then at the drive-in restaurant, when he saw the way she looked at him, it could have given him further reason to go after her.
When Arnold showed up to Connie's house she seemed to still be flirting with him. Even though it seemed like she was nervous about what he was doing there and how he found out where she lived. It sounded like she liked the fact that he took such a big interest in her. Oates portrayed this when Connie asked him "Where are we going" (982). Why would she ask if she wasn't interested or didn't like the attention. It wasn't until she realized how old he was and that he stuffed his boots that she started getting scared and realized he was just a pretense. By her actions it could have given any guy the wrong impression, like she really wanted him and was just playing shy.
It can be understood how someone might see this abduction as being Connie's fate. They might see everything connected to each other in the story. One connection in the story that they might see is in the beginning of the story Connie says that she wants to be dead. At the end she is sure that she will die. The story also says that she wants love and at the end Arnold offers his sick kind of love. Also in the last paragraph it says that Connie was out of her body watching herself open the screen door (Oates 989). By these examples and many others it could be thought that this was Connie's fate. However, Connie did open the door on her own free will.
Arnold Friend never physically forced her outside of the house. He used his words to get her to come out of the house. One might say that the reason Connie came out was because he threatened her family. However, she never comments that she is scared for her family. When she decides to go outside the only comments that she makes is "I'm not going to see my mother again" (Oates 988). In the beginning of the story she wanted her mother and herself dead. So it might be that she's not worried about her mother, it seems like her wish for herself is coming true.
Connie also did not fight her abductor very hard. Arnold promised not to come into the house unless she touched the phone. She already figured out what was going to happen to her, so why not try to do something? Why not shut and lock the door where it would take him awhile to get in and then go call the police? It is explained that Connie is scared to leave the room but why not try it? Why would she not go and lock herself in another room that would make it even harder for Arnold to get her? She was sure she knew what her ultimate situation was going to be, so why not fight? Make him come into the house and use a weapon against him. It was as if, she realized, this was what she hoped would happen.
The situation Connie got herself in was caused by her own free will because Connie's character played a big role in what ultimately happened to her, Connie's actions could give people bad ideas about her, and Connie does leave her house without physical force. Most people in a dangerous situation would fight for themselves instead of letting bad things happen.
Works Cited
Oates, Joyce Carol. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" The Story And Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Boston: Charters, 2007. 977-989.
"Where are you Going, Where have you Been? – Connie's Choice." 123helpme.com. 2005. 27 Jan. 2007 .


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