Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
by Joyce Carol Oates
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Sexuality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
Connie sat with her eyes closed in the sun, dreaming and dazed with the warmth about her as if this were a kind of love, the caresses of love, and her mind slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before and how nice he had been, how sweet it always was, not the way someone like June would suppose, but sweet, gentle, the way it was in movies and promised in songs; and when she opened her eyes she hardly knew where she was. [...] She shook her head as if to get awake. (12)
There's something quite luscious about this description of Connie's daydreaming, even if it's fueled by the cheesy romantic love of "movies" and "songs." This is all the more poignant considering what happens to her at the end of the story.
It was a car [Connie] didn't know. It was an open jalopy, painted a bright gold that caught the sunlight opaquely. Her heart began to pound and her fingers snatched at her hair, checking it, and she whispered, "Christ, Christ," wondering how bad she looked. (15)
The only people we see driving in the story are men, like Connie's father and Arnold Friend. Connie's first reaction at seeing a strange car isn't fear or anger but self-consciousness: she wonders how she looks, how attractive she is to men. It's also interesting at this critical moment that she says, "Christ, Christ," when just a couple of paragraphs before we are told that her family doesn't "bother with church" (12).
Connie liked the way he was dressed, which was the way all of them dressed. [...] And his face was a familiar face, somehow [...] the nose long and hawklike, sniffing as if she were a treat he was going to gobble up and it was all a joke. (46)
The story keeps emphasizing how like other boys Arnold Friend is, how "familiar." This makes him more mysterious to us because we don't learn anything about him as an individual. He is generic and stereotypical, as if Connie is confronting "men in general" here rather than one psychotic criminal.