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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Why does Arnold mention Connie's blue eyes?

Quick answer:

Arnold says that Connie has blue eyes to evoke the stereotype of the perfect, doll-like, "blue-eyed girl" and to emphasize the dichotomy between fantasy and reality.

Expert Answers

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At the end of Joyce Carol Oates's short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," Arnold Friend calls Connie "My sweet little blue-eyed girl." The author notes that this phrase has nothing to do with Connie's eyes, which are brown; this lack of connection to reality in Arnold's final words adds to the strange, dreamlike quality of the story's ending. Arnold is a deeply sinister figure, and he seems evil to many readers, who imagine the worst for Connie at the end of the story. There is no clear indication of what Connie's fate is to be, and the story is full of mystery. Even the title is a question.

The phrase "sweet little blue-eyed girl" suggests youth, innocence, and doll-like perfection. It is generic, rather than being a specific reference to Connie or any characteristic of hers. It may cause the reader to wonder how many girls Arnold has abducted before and what he has done with them. Throughout the story, there is a dichotomy between reality and fantasy, which intensifies in the surreal atmosphere at the end, as Arnold seems to hypnotize or entrance Connie into coming with him. The real color of Connie's eyes ceases to matter, as the atmosphere of unreality takes over.

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