What is symbolic of the kitchen & Arnold's car & what happened to Connie?
Did Connie end up dead, raped?
It sounded like Arnold Friend preys on teenaged girls, like he was a serial stalker or rapist.
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Perhaps more than any other issue or topic, the question of "what happens to Connie?" is the lynchpin in discussions of this well-known short story. Perhaps that is one reason that the film version of the story, entitled SMOOTH TALK, seeks to answer this question.
Given the author's frequent tendency to portray characters who are violent and depraved, and to depict the potential for violence in people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, it's not unreasonable to assume that Connie does indeed end up brutalized in some way by Arnold Friend.
But it's also possible that the encounter is merely a sexual one, and quite plausibly a consensual one. Connie's promiscuity (relative to her age and family situation) is a major theme of the story. The kitchen is the last bastion of her innocence, representing the safety net of home and family. But Connie's family is unsupportive and she is ready to move past what they can offer her. The car, so elaborately described, and so menacing, may be seen not only as a vehicle (literally and figuratively) to carry Connie to a new level of maturity and experience, but as a phallic symbol representing her sexual initiation.
As well, The screen door that divides Connie from Arnold is symbolic of her hymen, the physical barrier of her virginity. This door is emphasized in the film version as well, and screens are frequently used as symbols of virginity in cinema.
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