Joyce Carol Oates: Analysis Of His Short Story Essay, Research Paper
?Did Connie Bring Arnold?s Actions Upon Herself?
?Her heart was almost too big for her chest and its pumping made sweat break out
all over her?(105). Joyce Carol Oates places the reader in an undesirable situation in
?Where are you going, Where have you been??. This situation is a young girl being
evilly seduced and raped. Although Connie is young and beautiful, her two contrasting
personalities and actions put her in a position of fear and shock as Arnold Friend, takes
her to a personal living hell.
The main conflict of the story is between Arnold Friend and Connie. The author
brings the audience into the conflict when Arnold?s gold jalopy pulls into Connie?s
driveway (15). Oates then takes us to Arnold?s main objective ?getting Connie outside?
(20). As Connie and Friend get more involved in their arguments, the story builds up to a
The climax of the story is when Connie puts down the phone and gives into
Arnold. Friend, with all of his evil charm, leads Connie closer to him in her indecision
(145). Friend has now taken over Connie?s thoughts. He gains control of her mind and
takes advantage of her immaturity by seducing her to come outside and brutally raping
Arnold, having gotten what he wants, brings the story to a resolution when Connie
enters a mystical land where she has never been. Now, Connie is left alone in her living
hell that Arnold has created. Friends deception leaves Connie feeling utterly alone and
incapable of experiencing any emotions.
Oates portrays Connie as a young and beautiful girl. Connie loved to look at
herself. Her mother always criticized this and seemed to favor her older, more
dependable sister. Connie?s beauty and adolescence are one of the major benefactors to
A second characteristic that brings the conflict of the story to her is Connie?s
different personalities. She has two different ways of carrying herself ?home? and
?anywhere else?. Her ?home? personality is a more conservative, unsociable, and
acceptable of a young lady. However, her ?anywhere else? personality brings about many
changes not only in behavior but also in appearance. She could be seen as liberal,
sociable, and wild young girl who is open to new things (5).
Oates points out a third trait. This trait is visible through Connie?s actions. Her
behavior is two-sided along with every thing else about her. Her actions in the first of the
story, where she teases the boys and entices them (5), play a sharp contrast to her scared
actions at the end when the boy is enticing her (110). Connie exemplifies most young
girls in her actions. She likes to tease the young men, but doesn?t understand the
repercussions her actions will bring about.
The author takes the subject of a vulnerable young girl and interweaves it with the
theme of ?good vs. evil?. Connie is described as young and immature; however, Arnold
is described as older and wiser. The theme is further developed in the way Arnold tempts
Connie to come outside. A comparison can be drawn to Satan?s tempting of Jesus Christ
such as: the display of his knowledge, making promises, and offering unrealistic rewards.
This highlights the classic ?good vs. evil? battle. Nevertheless, Connie is much more
susceptible than Jesus, and surrenders to Arnold by going outside. Connie doesn?t want
to go but feels she has no other choice.
Joyce Carol Oates leaves a bitter taste in her audience?s mouth at the end of the
story. Through Oates description of Connie?s characteristics she shows how Connie had
to live with the result of her deeds. Oates feels that injustice has been done yet proves
her point of young girls opening themselves to these actions with their own actions. She
intends to leave the unjustness unpunished so her audience feels only a small part of what
Connie didn?t want or deserve the crime that was done to her. In the end Connie
realized the innocence she had been trying to escape was now gone. Although the loss of
her innocence didn?t happen in a way she had dreamed of it was gone and she was
?taken up just the same by the vast sunlit reaches of the land behind him and on all sides
of him, so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to
know that she was going to it? (160).