Raven Symoné

Raven Symoné

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Parallels in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" & "Dont You Know Who I Am?"

Oates's Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? tells a haunting story of a typical teenage girl whose love-obsessed personality gets the best of her when she is thrown into a truly "life-or-death" situation with an unknown man. Inspired by three Tuscon, Arizona murders, Oates garnered her inspiration for this work from a Life Magizine article profiling the killings. A common theme in both WAYGWHYB and Joyce Wegs's critical paper "Dont You Know Who I Am?"... is religion: themes through Connie's interests in music and daily actions. Music functions as a bridge for Connie to escape from reality to fantasy, away from her overbearing mother to a world of pure bliss: “The music was always in the background, like music at a church service; it was something to depend upon” (Oates 120). Connie explains that music is her religion, the object of worship at the service that completely takes over her existence. Wegs further explains Connie's attachment to music as her religion through her embodiment of the superficial, love-obsessed characteristics in much of, specifically, Bob Dylan's lyrics. Connie's complete infatuation with love comes to surface when Arnold Friend approaches Connie, a seemingly youthful and experienced lover, embodying all of the characteristics Connie and other girls her age at the time swooned over. Through this, it is understood that Connie's religion is not only music, but the perfect boy that music spoke of at the time, leaving her so vulnerable and able to be taken advantage of: "...her first glance makes Connie believe that a teenage boy with his jalopy, the central figure of her religion, has arrived; therefore, she murmurs 'Christ, Christ' as she wonders about how her newly-washed hair looks (Wegs 103). In conclusion, it's clear that Connie's disregard for typical warning signs due to her unchangeable goal in life being finding love get her into trouble, making her the target in Arnold's sick game. As music runs her life, as well as the themes the music Connie listens to brings, a complete disregard for the reality of a situation and the growing oddity of Arnold Friends persona, is clear in her choices. As Arnold's true identity is slowly revealed to Connie: the makeup rubbing off, the wig falling off, the seriousness of Connie's obsession with love, is revealed as she lacks the judgement to stop herself from completely letting herself go to a man she is completely fooled by: "She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were back safe somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited" (Oates 131).
Works Cited:
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Where Are You Going, Where      Have You Been? Ed. Elaine Showalter. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Print.

Wegs, Joyce M. “‘Don’t You Know Who I Am?’ The Grotesque in Oates’s ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’” Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Ed. Elaine Showalter. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Print.


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    1. Jake good job! Your post was very thought provoking. I had not thought of Connie as love obsessed. When thinking about it that brings a whole new light to the story and is almost like the driving force of the story. Connie is so desperate for love that she makes herself vulnerable, and Arnold Friend takes advantage of that. Additionally bringing up the point of Connie saying, "...Christ, Christ..." gives even more evidence that Connie's whole world changes after seeing Friend for the first time, as if she already knew that Friend was going to change her entire life. Great job, Jake!