Joyce Carol Oates’s story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” dates back to America’s fringes in the 1960s. It is a story that begins with a teenage naïve girl known as Connie. In the story, Connie is struck with boredom in mid-summer, with that effect making her loiter around with a motive of killing boredom. She only wants to avoid some of her mother’s nagging issues, and as a result, she decides to have a nature walk to minimize some of these obstructive issues. Connie decides to go to a drive-in restaurant in a nearby shopping center, where she meets a boy named Eddie and sparks a conversation. In the process of conversation arise a strange man named Arnold who asks Connie if she will be able to ride in his car, and due to her hesitant level, Connie decides to decline the temptation. Connie appears frightened and is forced to accept Arnold’s request and desires for the ride. This essay will analyze the nature of sexual predators, both focusing on literal and symbolic features described concerning the stranger named Arnold.
The behavior of Arnold is expressed as evil, and his character has an imprint that validates the facts of a sexual predator. Arnold friend tempts Connie with the car’s appearance, music, and nature from the literal view. The temptations symbolize a devil as he uses luxury and power to lure most girls, leading to him as a sexual predator. The appearance of Arnold’s character in the story is wilder as his overall look signifies some aspect of sexual anxiety. His appearance and look are similar to Bob Dylan’s, leading to a change in Connie’s interest (Oates 53). The nature of his dressing makes him tempt Connie as his looks give a fake presence of him when in an absolute sense. The story states that friends have critique and superhuman ability, which precisely makes Connie absent from her parents in making her decision. Connie’s absence leads to sinister capacity changes that demonstrate sexual predator interest as his threats might harm her family, and she had to comply with issues with a satanic identity.
There is another aspect that Arnold friend uses in his overall look and his tone, which lures Connie. Changes in his style create an impressive appeal of interest to Connie. Therefore, this issue can precisely be predicted as an issue that Satan uses for temptation, but Arnold’s character had an interest in sexual ideas (Conover 121). The author shows that the framework of religious allegory and other literary facts of seduction towards Connie which emerges with an existential initiation theme. In this case the young girl was unable to grip the boy’s knowledge due to a low level of determined fate. The seduction of Connie by the boy fully shows that Oates is inspired mainly by events that occurred during Eve and Adam period. In the first step, Connie’s fate was entirely determined before following Arnold friend’s temptation, which led her to be doomed as her innocence was utterly uncovered (Gillis 65). How Connie complied with the outcome of interaction with Arnold friend signifies that she was used to acceptance of her parents as she was wholly and entirely responsible for the adverse fate she made.
In the story, Connie is marked with an ‘X,’ giving significant nature that she could not escape from the sexual predator. It is also characterized by the impact of leaving her parents alone and making critical decisions which lead to her temptation. The mode of conversation between Arnold friend and Connie is friendly, though, in the end, he decides to threaten her with the overall justification of temptation (Cougill 45). The ideal manner of how this temptation works full gives a detailed view that Arnold’s character is imposing and can be termed a sexual predator. The outcome of acceptance of Connie leads to what he wants, which implies rape. Nonetheless, it is valid that most sex offenders try to do this to the younger generation either physically or via a confrontation and conversation.
Connie was trapped by the relationship between Arnold with his friend Eddie and the car which they used to play music. Such an act gives the precise suggestion that Connie was taken as a teen by a devil leading to an aspect of a sexual predator. The influence of Arnold friend and character signifies that she makes positive commands towards Connie as she had nothing to resist but under the influence and possession of a devil. Playing the music in the car is a sign of a sin that Eddie tries to obey by being struck in a trance-like state with minimal reasoning. Arnold’s character to attempt to influence Connie symbolizes sexual interest as most of the signs used depict specific target issues (Oates 76). Most of the music that was played proves that Connie has some stance on the music, which makes her easy to be creped by the music taste. In the process of conversation, the music gives Connie a particular impression of danger as the level of seduction increases and draws close to her reasoning and interest.
Realities expressed in the story show that most of the promises made in real-life situations might have sexual facts and aggressiveness of evil, and it is easy for a person to be blinded easily. The implication of Connie’s acceptance is an issue that leaves with the fantasy of changes where the music led to the temptation. Manner of how Arnold friend draws Connie into this enthusiastic fantasy with the tune of music shows that satanic powers are always mighty. Arnold friend is seducing Connie with some facts that veil the intent level in the story. The lyrics of the music in the car drew close the attention to Connie with hidden of raping the young girl, which is an issue that leads to the seduction of the sexual predator character (Oates 131). Most of the words used in the song suggest some dangerous effect that ties to the anxiety trip as Arnold friend want Connie’s attention to lure her easily and have the outcome of their planned issue. Arnold does several things to ensure that he achieves his goal of winning Connie.
In the story, Oates shows that character of Arnold friend is an illusion and symbolic of American culture, where the car symbolizes an aspect of freedom that has satanic and hidden facts. It is an issue that became popular in previous years as men currently use cars to seduce women and perform the act of sexual harassment after the temptation. The car from his friend is used to attract different young girls, which makes him appear youthful though his age does not decry the actions performed (Conover 121). Painting of the car gives one a literal meaning of attractiveness as it had the color of gold. The good appearance is mainly used as a show of richness and possession of some expensive items, and due to this, Connie is easily influenced. However, the expressed car is so flush, which still hurts the eyes of Connie as she was able to realize some sketchy outcomes with the car. However, black was also used in the car, which symbolically expresses the character’s dark side with that Arnold had an association.
In the car, there was a drawing of a pumpkin with the symbolic feature of evil and misfortune in most traditional interpretations. However, some strange numbers in the same car, like 33, 19, and 17 validating an impression of sexual depression as the total outcome was 69. The interactive level of Arnold’s character has some literal and hidden matter of sexual intention towards Connie, which its termination led to the implication of rape (Conover 121). The story shows that Arnold’s character has an iconic symbol and literal meaning of the devil since his nature of conversation has some culmination of sexual predators. Car, musical lyrics, and the power of his dressing are some of the issues that lured Connie into the line of damnation and sin. The story has literal religious imagery of the devil created inside Arnold’s character. All of his intention towards Connie was not on matters of support but to lure her, leading to the justifiable issue of rape.
Conover, Samantha R. “A False Sense of Security: An Analysis of Victims of Sexual Assault and the Progress We Have Made Compared to Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.” U. Cent. Fla. Dep’t Legal Stud. LJ 1 (2018): 121.
Cougill, Jo Nell. Vice and Virtue: Joyce Carol Oates’s Collection, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Stories of Young America as a Morality Manual for Adolescents. Diss. Southeast Missouri State University, 2019.
Gillis, Christina Marsden. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Seduction, Space, and a Fictional Mode.” Studies in Short Fiction 18.1 (1981): 65.
Oates, Joyce Carol. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been. Rutgers University Press, 1994.