Joyce Carol Oates's short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” was written in 1966 and twenty years later was made into a movie entitled Smooth Talk by Joyce Chopra, winner of the 1985 U.S. Film Festival for best dramatic picture. The writing by Oates is loosely based on a true story known as “The Pied Piper of Tucson.” The most significant differences based on the story and movie are the father-daughter relationship with Connie and Chopra’s changing the mother’s attitude toward her. Even with these changes, however, the character of Connie and her creepy stalker Arnold Friend remain the same.
Connie’s identity is shown at the end of the story, but who she was at the beginning of the story differs to who she became at the end of the story. To start, Connie was a fifteen year old girl who was beautiful and adventuress, but failed to acknowledge and grasp the idea of a real family. Connie’s family or her mother is not the exact loving and caring mother some people have experienced. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”, Connie sated “Her mother, who noticed everything and knew everything and who hadn 't
Her knowledge of her beauty allows her to draw attention to it from many guys of many ages. She loves the attention that she gets from these boys, and that often seduces her into the decisions that she makes. Her first encounter with Arnold Friend occurs when she is in the car with one of the boys she met, Eddie. She glances to her right and sees Arnold, in his car, staring at her. Arnold spoke with his lips to tell her “Gonna get you, baby”, and perhaps it is this threat that causes Connie to symbolize him as a jeopardy to her innocence that the reader sees in her nightmare (Oates 28).
She knows he is threatening her and her family but it seems she is controlled by an unknown source that makes her go with him. Someone could argue that Connie went willingly to protect her family, but that seems weird since she tried to call for help. When she tried to call for help it seemed like Arnold Friend was controlling her so that she wasn’t able to call for help. Arnold Friend has a mysterious control over Connie that makes the reader believe that she is under his control. The story says, “She felt her pounding heart. Her hand seemed to enclose it. She thought for the first time in her life that it was nothing that was hers, that belonged to her, but just a pounding, living thing inside this body that wasn’t really hers either”(Oates 325). This could prove that she didn’t have control over the situation, kind of like someone or something was controlling her.
Both the movie and the story emphasize the dramatic separation of understanding between Connie and her mother. The apparent lack of depth in Connie and her father’s relationship dims in comparison to the almost-tangible hatred Connie seems to feel toward her mother, her mother “who had been pretty once too, but now her looks were gone, and that was why she was always after Connie” (Oates 148). Despite the anger she feels, however, it is her mother that Connie cries out to for help in both versions as she sees herself forced to give into Friend’s wishes in an attempt to spare her family the evil he hints will come
Connie is a young, immature character, who is incredibly self-conscious about her looks, and how people view her. She has a habit of constantly looking at herself in the mirror, and is often scolded at by her mother. Her mother compares Connie to her older sister, June, who receives all the praise. Her mother favors June because she is grown up and makes contributions to the home, as Connie is just in her own realm, usually daydreaming. This creates resentment towards her mother, and Connie wishes that her mother was dead. This most likely fuels her to gain the independence that she is looking for and become the mature adult she acts like outside the home. Connie had completely different
Oates's story, according to its ambiguous ending, can have several interpretations. The most literally one depends upon the problem of rape in today's culture. Connie is a pretty, young and inexperienced girl. She is being seduced by an older man, who finally achieves his goal, rapes her, and probably murders. The story can be a kind of warning that there are thousands of women harmed through this crime every day, and more often they are innocent and naive teenagers and girls. It may also call for not only reacting to a victim of a horrible rape, but for searching out the rapists, seeking the causes of rape in the society, and stopping this epidemic at its source.
In the beginning of the story, the way Oates describes Connie’s behaviors help construct Connie’s state of mind as a doubtful and vulnerable young girl. The author perfectly capture the essences of Connie’s character by illustrates how Connie has, “a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right,”
In the story the ending concludes that Connie gets into the car with Arnold Friend and drives off with him in his golden vehicle, an “open jalopy, painted a bright gold,” (Oates, para. 15) without any explanation of what occurs after the ride, leaving the reader in the dark about what had occurred “on all sides of him—so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it.” (Oates, para. 162) In the movie Smooth Talk the Connie is taken from her house by Arnold Friend and driven to an unknown field where something occurs with slight faint screams in the distance while the camera is focused on the golden vehicle. She is then driven back to her home, where apparently some time has passed, and is reunited with her family with a “new outlook” on life. The house is different and even Connie’s room is changed, creating an effect that Connie has passed on and her spirit returned to mend broken ties with her family. The cliffhanger that Oates leaves and the insight that Chopra allocates are significantly
Oates starts off by introducing the story’s 15 year old protagonist, Connie. Connie is symbolic of innocence and good. However, Connie has
Moral and social beliefs were being challenged and the youth of America, while coming of age, were rebelling against their parent’s ideals and creating their own culture. The birth of a social movement was upon the world and issues such as sexual freedom, feminism and other civil rights were hot topics during the years prior to Oates writing this story. It is these social changes and society’s interest in them that creates the foundation for the setting that breathes life into this story. Without this foundation, the coming-of-age story of Connie, not to mention American society, and her journey from the innocence of the 1950s into the bitter reality of the turbulent times of the 1960s would have been lost.
In the same vein, narcissism is another trait that characterizes Connie’s attitude. She obviously has the sophisticated mind-set of a young lady that she pretends to be although she is only an adolescent. It is easy to detect through the story that the protagonist Connie spends all her time acting and protecting her ego. So many passages illustrate that point of view. Connie is a two faced adolescent. She presents to the exterior world the image of a modest and well behaved girl whereas she has in her the hidden quality of sexual flirtation. To describe Connie, Oates mentions, ‘’Connie had long dark hair that drew anyone’s eye to it, and she wore part of it pulled up on her head and puffed out and the rest of it she left fall down her back. She wore a pull-over jersey blouse that looked one way when she was at home and another way when she was away from home’’
He was telling her that he thought she was cute, and she said back to him, that she didn’t know who he was. He told her that his name was Arnold Friend, and he acted like she should know him. They kept going at each other, Arnold from the driveway and her from the house (behind the door). Arnold seemed to know everything about her family. He knew that they were out for the day and that they wouldn’t be back. He told her that he thought that she was cute and that she should come for a ride in the car. She told him flat out that she didn’t want to, but he told her that if she hadn’t done so that he was going to hurt her family. (Oates 367) He told her too that if she picked up the phone and called the police that he was going to come into the house, but otherwise he wouldn’t come in.Connie was terrified she didn't know what to do so she put the phone down “Cmon honey”. She put her hand to the door, and walked towards Arnold Friend. He said to her “My sweet little blue eyed girl.”(Connie had brown eyes)…Oates tells in the end “Connie had never seen so much land before and did not recognize it except to know that she was going to it.” (Oates 377) Arnold friend took Connie away……
The author puts Connie out to be a bad kid but is she really? Yeah, Connie is not the most respectful or well-behaved kid but who is at the age of fifteen. The author shares some instances where Connie does not make the best decisions. The author shares, “She spent three hours with him, at the restaurant where they ate hamburgers and drank cokes…and then down an alley a mile or so away” (Oate’s. 109). The quote shows how Connie put herself in situations that a girl her age should have never been in. The author gives Connie the identity of not being confident in herself when she says, “Connie would raise her eyebrows at these familiar complaints and look right through her mother, into a shadowy vision of herself as she was right at that moment: she knew she was pretty and that was everything.”
Does she take the chance on calling the cops? Or should she get in the car with Arnold Friend? Either way I think she knew that the outcome was going to be death. The story ends with Connie on her way out to the car. She put out her hand against the screen. She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were back sage somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited. (164) Why does Connie make this decision? The story does not say, but as the reader I think that Connie was thinking if she stayed that he would harm her and her family, but if she went with