Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
by Joyce Carol Oates
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Visions of America Quotes
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The restaurant was shaped like a big bottle, though squatter than a real bottle, and on its cap was a revolving figure of a grinning boy holding a hamburger aloft. (6)
Connie and her friend go to a typical gathering spot for teenagers in 1960s America. The "grinning boy" has a sinister undertone, particularly since the real "grinning boy" of the story is Arnold, who even has a creepy smiling profile of himself painted on the side of the car.
They went up through the maze of parked and cruising cars to the bright-lit, fly-infested restaurant, their faces pleased and expectant as if they were entering a sacred building that loomed up out of the night to give them what haven and blessing they yearned for. (6)
That the local drive-in is a "sacred building" gives us a sense of the total lack of really sacred buildings in town, and by extension, of any sacred values in their society other than commercialism.
[Connie and her friend] listened to the music that made everything so good: the music that was always in the background, like music at a church service, it was something to depend upon. (6)
Music is an essential component of the popular culture that Connie and her friend embrace, just as it is today. As in the previous quote, pop culture is presented here on a par with religion.