Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates

1157 Words5 Pages
Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a modern interpretation of the classic narrative of evil tempting innocence. Oates’ version of the devil allegory combines this Christian model of temptation with contemporary secular society. Connie is a pretty fifteen year-old girl, beginning the process of maturation into adulthood. She begins to become aware of her ability to act of her own volition, but her naivete renders her ignorant to Arnold Friend’s layers of deception. Connie’s blindness is the pretext of her loss of innocence and subsequent fall from grace. Connie plays with the idea of adulthood, but at fifteen, she is still too young for her actions to be deemed acceptable by her parents so…show more content…
Connie uses the faceless boys to live out her childish delusions of romance and allows herself to be swept away by this singular sentimental idea. The naivete of her lived fantasies expose her youthful innocence, much like that of Adam and Eve before their temptation by the serpent. Connie’s encounter with Arnold Friend is the representation of innocence being tempted by evil and sin. Arnold Friend first attempts to coax Connie out of her house for a joyride by trying to charm her, much like the serpent appeals to Eve. Arnold Friend’s presentation of himself is layered with falsities, and Connie is initially blinded by his deceptiveness. He wears metallic sunglasses that hide his age, but in her vanity Connie is more concerned that she cannot see what he is looking at; she is unable to interpret his opinion of her. Connie only cares about how Arnold Friend sees her and does not realize that she cannot see him or his motives. Arnold Friend’s attempts to hide his age are evident by his hiccups in trendiness. On his car a phrase that has already gone out of style is written, and in an effort to remember a contemporary expression, he runs through all that he can remember. He is also deceitful in the basic aspect of his physicality -- he stuffs his boots to appear taller and stands, “so stiffly
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