Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Oates

1222 Words5 Pages
For centuries, society has placed a remarkably large emphasis on protecting the young from the many perceived errors of growing up. Effective sex education is resisted in many locations across the country in favor of somewhat comical biblical suggestions for abstinence until marriage even while the majority of those targeted teens are viewing the world as a more and more sexual place. So many views are weaving in and out of teenagers' newly formed adolescent minds that any effective argument for responsible attitudes or analysis of sexual behavior in teens should be expressed with a certain minimal degree of clarity. Unfortunately, this essential lucidity of advice is missing in the short story “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been,”…show more content…
If that isn’t enough, the story ends on another swing, suggesting that Connie “was taken up... by the sunlit reaches of the land behind him and on all sides of him...” (Oates, n.p.), switching back to more positive diction. Oates’ portrayal of Friend vacillates enough that readers can’t develop a definitive opinion of Arthur Friend other than a collective agreement that Arthur Friend is a creep. Another serious yet in a sense comical problem with the story is it’s sheer density. Not content with merely writing an essay on teenage sexuality or a short narrative about a girl named Connie who’s just being introduced to the reality of relationships, Oates feels the need to write a symbol-filled story with demons and secret codes like 33 19 17 included in order to... what, though? To confuse the reader and have them empathize with Connie? I don’t know about empathizing, but confusion, if it was an intention, tends to be very successful. To further my understanding of this story, I thought to look up some possible meanings of those three numbers on Friend’s golden car, not necessarily in an academic sense, but just out of curiosity as to how other readers interpreted those numbers. The results ranged from a bible verse with a translation of the title in the passage (you need to count backwards) to the ages of
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