In Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates, Oates describes a girl, named Connie whose behavior is an anomaly to the other girls in that specific time zone. Connie is a fifteen year old girl, who’s obsessed with the way she looks. Her sister, June is liked more than her and Connie is angry at her parents, her mother especially. Her mother talked on the phone about both sister. “If June name was mentioned her mother’s tone was approving, and if Connie’s name was mentioned it was disapproving.” Connie behavior is due to her mother treatment, and biased favoritism over June than her. It leads Connie to rebel and longing to be free she starts acting older than she is.
Oates uses symbolic elements in the story to show the outcome and the underlying effects of Connie’s behavior. Connie goes out one day with her friends and she see “Arnold Friend” and he tells her “gonna get you baby.” The next day she sees him again at her house, where he tries to persuade her to take a ride with him.
Although it is meant to protect her, Connie’s house symbolizes weakness. Arnold Friend is able to break Connie psychologically and make her leave her house by threatening her and her family and manipulating and hypnotizing her. Arnold Friend is more than he really seems to be in the story. He symbolizes evil, he deceives and manipulate Connie and brings her to her downfall. Oates intentional symbolism suggests that Arnold Friend is a horrible person that wears a mask to hide his true identity. Thi is made apparent by his sunglasses and his boots.
They symbolizes deception, his mysteriousness, and privacy. Arnold Friend uses his sunglasses to hide his eyes. “The eyes are a peephole into the soul” He hides his eyes to hide his true intentions for Connie, so that she “couldn’t decide if she liked him or if he was just a jerk.”. His glasses made it impossible to know if he was a friend or a fiend. Arnold boots also symbolizes privacy because his boots did not fit him properly. Oates says that Also when he was standing Connie had mentioned that “He was standing in a strange way, leaning back against the car as if he were balancing himself”. This could be because his feet are not feet but hooves, like the devil would have.
He kept stumbling around because he had “hoof feet” like a demon. Another symbol Oates uses is music. Music is everywhere in the story. Playing in radios, restaurants, cars, and even homes. “The music was always in the background like music in a church service, it was something to depend upon.
” The music is the cause of how people think, act, and feel. Arnold uses music to influence Connie. Connie feelings for boys are mixed up with “the insistent pounding of the music” and its “slow-pulsed joy”. Arnold talks to Connie in a “simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song”. To Connie music symbolizes peace or a sort of haven.
Everytime music is playing she tends not to realize things as they really are, and her mind wanders as she often enjoys the music. Connie symbolism suggest that