"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is set in 1960s America. That this setting so closely resembles our own is not surprising, given how much of American society can be traced back to the burst of optimism and material prosperity following World War II. The story takes us into the world of American suburban adolescence, where popular culture in the form of movies and rock music saturates everyday life, and where there is little to do besides cruising and hanging out at shopping plazas or diners.
The '60s was also a period in America when many were questioning values that had long been taken for granted. The civil rights movement, more liberated attitudes toward sexuality, and the hippie counterculture are all legacies of the 1960s. The story asks us to consider how America as a superficial, wealth- and celebrity-obsessed culture may play a role in the context of its treatment of violence and adolescent sexuality.
Composed of different elements of popular culture, Arnold represents the harmful effects of a superficial society.
Even though "Where Are You Going?" is set in the 1960s, it's still relevant to controversies in American society today.