Short Story #243: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates

Title:  Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Author:  Joyce Carol Oates

Summary

Photo of Joyce Carol Oates.  Source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8265/8645429237_52dddcb452_z.jpg
Connie is a fifteen year old girl suffering under the watchful eye of her mother, who regularly berates her for not being good enough or too self-centered.  She has an older sister who is less attractive and works at the school that Connie attends.  However, one benefit of having her older sister around is that Connie could often go with her to get out of the house.  While out one night, she meets up with a boy she likes, Eddie, who is escorting her to his car when they past by a boy with shaggy hair who stares at her says he is going to get her.  She continues with Eddie but is a bit upset by the encounter.  One Sunday later on in the summer, Connie decides she doesn't want to go with the family on a family outing but stay home instead.  She spends the day lounging around and daydreaming about the sex she had the previous night.  While enjoying the day, she heard a car drive up that seemed to be too early for her family.  When she goes to see who it is, she finds it is the shaggy boy who she saw that night.  He begins to talk with her but the talk continues to make Connie anxious.  His disposition is menacing.  The boy introduces himself as Arnold Friend but that doesn't seem to help the mood any better.  The boy continues to insist that she should come for a ride with him and she continues to refuse but he continually reveals that he knows much about her and her family.  She finally tells them to leave but Arnold states he isn't leaving without her.  He increasingly grows sterner and warns her against doing anything he wouldn't like.  The banter goes back and forth with increasingly violent connotations before Connie gives up and makes a run for the phone.  The action results in Arnold chasing her down and raping her.  Afterward, she becomes compliant and does what she says.  She follows him out and he takes her away.

Reflection

Oates writes such dark, powerful, and gut-wrenching stories.  This is one of her more famous.  The assumed power that Connie believes she has contrasts so much with what power she actually has.  That veil of reality that gets shattered in this story is brutal to witness.  Initially, we find ourselves at odds with Connie and her superficiality and yet, by story's end, we are left feeling sad and powerless.

Short Story #243 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  7/25/2014
Source:  The short story can be found at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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