Mrs. Jennifer Burkett Pittman
12 February 2014
Candy Land: What Happens When Children Lack Subconscious Maps of the Real World as Seen in Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
Researchers have said for years that reading is good for you. It encourages the thought process and can relays methods of working through situations one has never encountered before; that reading is the difference between a smart well-prepared child and one set in stone for failure. This resonance is similar to that ...view middle of the document...
Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a short story grimly recounting a young teenage girl’s sudden reckoning with her own sexuality in response to an attack by a predatory old fiend. It is heavily implied that Connie, the narrator, gives in to the evil Arnold Friend in the end, as she lacks the ability to handle the situation herself proven when Oates’ writes in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’, “Something roared in her ear, a tiny roaring, and she was so sick with fear that she could do nothing but listen to it- the telephone was clammy and very heavy and her fingers groped down to the dial but were too weak to touch it” (461). Connie had the sense to run to the telephone, but she was at a loss for who to call, or how to operate the phone because she was so consumed with fear. Her psych was ill-prepared to handle the situation that she allowed herself to get trapped in to by embracing her sexuality and beauty.
According to Schulz and Rockwood, “The only ‘stories’ Connie knows are those of the sexually provocative but superficial lyrics of the popular songs she loves or of the equally insubstantial movies she attends” (1453). This implies that Connie, as mentioned early of her generation, was not raised on reading fairy tales as bedtime stories; the “stories” Connie hears are love stories from the songs and movies that tell how sweet and gentle and perfect love is. She is not prepared to see the ugly side of “love” or really lust when it rears its head in the form of Arnold Friend.
Connie believed only good things about love, as her music taught her to, and though fairy tales do not extensively show the corrupt side of love in their stories, they do however show situations that require embracing fear to survive. “Little Red Riding Hood,” the classic tale of a granddaughter visiting her grandmother who has been eaten and impersonated by a wolf is a great example of this. Little Red is cautious of her grandmother’s oddities, something Connie was not when Friend approached her at her house. She casually stood in her front doorway having a conversation, a little edgy at times, but so vain in the beginning – worrying about her hair – that the idea of “Stranger Danger” did not occur to her. Friend, though compared to the Prince of “Cinderella” by Stan Kozikowski in his article “The Wishes and Dreams Our Hearts Make in Oates’ ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’” when he says “Arnold, overblown as he is, still plays the Prince, exercising his royal claim, having discovered his ‘barefoot’ lady fair: ‘Seen you that night and thought, that’s the one, yes sir. I never needed to look anymore’ (42)” (paragraph 17), reminds me more of the Big Bad Wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood” when Oates’ says, “His teeth were big and white” (457) and...