In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates there is a plethora of symbolism even just with the characters names. Connie in the story is the one in a sense being conned. Arnold Friend is an old friend meaning he is old and also this could mean that he was around earlier in Connie’s life, one could interpret this as he has been watching her for a while. Ellie Oscar lies he is made up of lies also Ellie never leaves the car to which he seems confined hence Oscar. June remains constant much as the month June is always constant each year.
The reader can relate to Connie Because at one point everyone has gone through that stage in their life (their teenage years that is) this make this story especially terrifying to every reader especially women. I believe that in the end of the story Connie is going to be killed and I think that Arnold friend has killed before, he makes a reference to Connie that he has murdered one of her neighbors. Also When Arnold Friend shows Connie his car there are three numbers written on it 33 19 and 17 and Arnold Friend refers to these numbers as a secret code, I believe they are the ages of the woman he has killed before and one can notice the numbers are descending and Connie is 15.
Although the setting takes place in a town with no real identity one thing does stand out and that is music and the radio station. This could be because of the fact that the story was dedicated to Bob Dylan after Oates got the idea from his song “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”. At one point in the story Connie states that “He had the voice of the man on the radio now. It was the same voice, Connie thought. ” here Connie may be making a connection or possibly she is just making this observation because his voice was to her like the radio announcers voice “familiar”. Also music is important because it is something that every person has in common everyone likes music just everyone has a different taste.
This story is a psychological thriller that is meant to enable the reader to feel the terror in which Connie is feeling. this is done through descriptive language third person narrator and setting. This story all in all serves its purpose to be dark and although violence is never shown it is assumed,and by leaving the end to the reader Oates furthers that suspense and terror.