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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Analysis of the short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates.

Caroline t

on 17 October 2014

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Transcript of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Question #2
Describe the characterization of Connie. Is she a typical teenage girl of her time and place? What technique does Oates employ to make her an individual, three-dimensional character?
Question #1
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Oates has called this story a "realistic allegory." What are the allegorical elements in the story?
Question #3
Why is Connie's sister June included the story? How does her characterization serve to highlight Connie's own?
Question #4
Do the descriptions of Arnold Friend--his face, his clothing, his dialogue--have symbolic meaning? Is his name symbolic?
Question #5
Discuss the symbolic importance of music in the story. Why is music so important to Connie and to the story as a whole?
Question #6
What is the significance of the title? Does it point to an allegorical interpretation?
Question #7
Describe the ways in which the story generates suspense. At which points is an increase in suspense particularly noticeable?
Question #8
Why does Connie agree to go with Arnold Friend? Is she motivated by altruism and a love for her family, or by simple fear and hysteria? What is her ultimate fate?
This whole story is an allegory for temptation by the Devil. Connie is vain, and the Devil targets vain people. She is attracted to his darkness at first, but by the time that she decides that he is too creepy, it it too late.

Connie ignores all of the red flags. The red flags include: his appearance, his hobbled gait, him lying about his age, him knowing everything about her, his name, and his sign "X".

Warning signs that the author included in the text were: the repetition of the words "flies/fly", "hell", and "Christ", references to her family not going to church, and the door scene.
Judges (33) 19:17 "And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?”
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