Raven Symoné

Raven Symoné

Monday, January 20, 2014

WAYGWHYB Movie vs. Story Comparison

     "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" a story by Joyce Oates follows the stories of the murders of three girls from Arizona. After the popularity of this story (which was based off of a true story), a movie recreation was born. A product of the 80's: Chopra's "Smooth Talk". In WAYGWHYB, Oates ends the story with Connie, the protagonist, freeing herself from all of her restrictions and letting herself go to Arnold Friend's control. Although the gruesome details are not written about at the end of WAYGWHYB, it can be assumed that Connie is murdered due to the story being based off of a news article about the murdering of three girls, one being Connie. On the other hand, "Smooth Talk" portrays a different story as the movie comes to a close. After Connie gets into the car with Friend and they "go for a ride", Connie is suddenly returned home after a, literal, drive around in his car. As a reader of WAYGWHYB and the news article about the killings of these girls, I was, as a viewer, expecting a completely different ending and was shocked and confused about why Chopra decided to end "Smooth Talk" on a different note: returning Connie to her house as if nothing occurred. Whether Connie was raped or not can't be assumed, but the fact that she returns to her home a changed woman is apparent. Connie's development before and after this climactic (or anti-climactic) moment is discussed in Brenda O. Daly's "An Unfilmable Conclusion: Joyce Carol Oates at the Movies".
     At the beginning of the movie, Connie is demonstrated by Chopra as trapped: trapped by her mother's always overbearing grasp on her life and obsession with finding little things to reprimand her on, and trapped by her obsession with love and sex, causing her to almost feel overwhelmed with unsatisfied feelings. This is directly correlated in not only the story, but also physical and cinematic aspects of the movie as Daly explains: "Every time Connie is on screen, she’s shot in close-up...with no space around her, pinned to the tiny unmovable frame”. This supports the idea that Connie was literally not only, as she felt, trapped emotionally, but also physically in her life which is reflected through the metaphor of the actual shot that Chopra used in the movie. The eventual development of Connie's character is next seen through Arnold Friend's shots. Friend is shot in very wide shots, a metaphor, as Chopra explains, for the freedom that Friend gives Connie; a chance to be herself, and not worry about the restrictions that she feels are on her life put on by her family and friends. 
     Through this, it's clear that Chopra intentionally did not shoot the gruesome ending to the story, because it was not important to the point of the story that she intended to get across. Connie's development is shown as she leaves Friend's shiny gold car and realizes that her dependency on men was not as required as she once believed; that freedom and a world open for her taking was up to her. Overall, it's clear that through Chopra's interpretation of Oates' story, the crucial theme of independence and Connie's constant search for it is gotten across and effectively establishes a successful bridge between the text and cinematic version of this iconic and classic piece of literature.


  1. Well, Oates didn't show the "gruesome end" either…but what Chopra did do was tack on a new ending. You make a good point that Connie's character is shown to have developed in that final scene with Friend. But denying to Connie that anything happened that day seems to me to detract from any show of power in the previous scene.

    1. What I meant to say was that I think Connie was clearly changed from that experience, whatever that was and I don't think she was in any way denying her experience with Arnold Friend, but developing from it by in a way walking away from the situation she knew was dangerous and becoming more independent when she tells Arnold to never come back.