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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?


Joyce Carol Oates


Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Analysis

Literary Devices in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

"The music was always in the background," the narrator tells us, "like music in a church service, it was something to depend upon" (6). Music is everywhere in this story, blaring out of radios in r...


The story takes us on a tour of 1960s suburbia from the perspective of a teenager: drive-in restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, "ranch"-style homes. While this setting looks a lot like a t...

Narrator Point of View

Most of the story is told from Connie's point of view. We learn, feel, and get confused about things at the same time she does. Since much of the story is restricted to her perspective, Arnold Frie...


Oates has described "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" as slipping and sliding between genres. She suggests the terms "psychological realism" and "realistic allegory" (source). The story...


Since the story is told largely from Connie's point of view, it's generally sympathetic toward her as it explores her thoughts and feelings. Even when criticizing how superficial her romantic notio...

Writing Style

The style of "Where Are You Going?" is somewhat journalistic in the sense that there are few excessive stylistic flourishes or cumbersome sentence structures. But Oates's spare style enables the im...

What's Up With the Title?

The title of Oates's story has the quality of a good song lyric: it's simple, it's meaningful, it's got a nice rhythm, and it's mysterious enough to keep us thinking about what it means. It's also...

What's Up With the Ending?

The ending kind of creeps up on you, in much the same way that Arnold gradually and insistently convinces Connie to join him in his car. The story starts off in a psychologically realistic mode as...


"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is a short story written in readable, contemporary English – nothing arcane, no special vocabulary. We're giving it a "3" instead of "1" on the Tough-o...

Plot Analysis

Connie is a typical 15-year-old living in an American suburb.In this initial situation, the story introduces us to Connie, a pretty but air-headed teenager who seems terribly ordinary. She doesn't...


The critics Mike Tierce and John Michael Crofton believe that Arnold Friend is modeled on Bob Dylan. Citing Dylan's song "Mr. Tambourine Man," they argue that Friend represents a disruptive creativ...

Steaminess Rating

While there is no explicit sex or violence in the book, there is sexually explicit language and stuff that media-ratings people call "adult content": the threat of rape, assault, possibly murder.

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