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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What do the numbers (33, 19, 17) on Arnold Friend's car signify in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

Quick answer:

The numbers written on Arnold Friend's car in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" possibly refer to Jesus, perhaps signifying that Friend is a sort of Antichrist.

Expert Answers

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The way Friend leers at Connie, you might think these numbers are a woman's measurements: bust 33, waist 19, hips 17; but that would make an unusual looking woman.

Perhaps he is referring to John 19:17: "So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of the skull." Traditionally, Jesus was 33 when he was crucified.

At the end of the story, when Connie looks out over the fields as she walks out of the house, she realizes that she is walking to her own death.

One other thing that might link Friend to an anti (meaning opposite of) Christ is that he asks her, "Don't you know who I am?" Jesus asked the same question of his disciples.

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