illustration of a young girl, Connie, reflected in the sunglasses of a man, Arnold Friend

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

by Joyce Carol Oates

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In Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, what are Arnold Friend's methods of luring Connie and what makes him successful in the end?

I must relate the symbolic implications of his characteristics to this focus

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This story is also read as a "coming of age" tale, with Connie crossing the line from innocence to experience through the temptations of Arnold Friend (the name suggesting at once "fiend" and "friend," which is paradoxical yet also suggestive of the nature of her cross over into experience). Throughout the story Connie is seduced by the rock and roll music culture, and her parents do not sufficiently supervise her.  Friend, some critics think, symbolizes Connie's unconscious desires created by music, that she in fact creates him as opposed to him being an actual reality.  Oates dedicated the story to Bob Dylan.  She based the story on a song of his (It's all over now baby blue--I think that's the title...) and an actual incident she read in the newspaper about a young man seducing and then kidnapping young women. 

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