Could you help me to examine the ways in which the author has dealt with the theme of Love and Death in "Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a sense in which the "love" that Arnold Friend offers Connie is equatable with death, as clearly Arnold and his other friend in the car outside are characters who mean to do incredible harm to Connie if not kill her completely. However, part of the sinister nature of Arnold's character is the way in which he is able to hypnotically convince Connie that the future that awaits her will help her to experience "love" whereas the reader is able to see how it will only bring death to her. Notice the following quote:

I'll have my arms tight around you so you won't need to try to get away and I'll show you what love is like, what it does.

What appears to be at face value words that offer the promise of love, if we examine them in detail, are actually strangely sinister and disturbing. The embrace that Arnold promises will be so tight that Connie won't "need to try to get away," and so is more restrictive and entrapping than anything else. The "love" that Arnold promises Connie is therefore shown to be similar to the death that awaits her if she gives in to Arnold and goes with him. And yet, as the story makes clear, in Arnold's hands, she doesn't really have a choice except to follow him.

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