Filter Your Search Results:

Ending in Where Are You Going Where Have You Been Essay


Question 3

Discuss the ending of one of the short stories we have explored. Why do you think the writer ends the story there? Are your expectations fulfilled by the end of the story?

Title of chosen story: Where are you going where have you been. A short story by Joyce Carol Oates

A short summary of the story illustrates, the main character, Connie, a beautiful but self-absorbed 15-year-old girl, who is at odds with her mother, and older sister. Without her parents' knowledge, she spends most of her evenings flirting with boys at a fast food joint, and one evening captures the attention of a stranger in a gold flashy convertible. While her parents are away at her aunt's barbecue, two men pull up in front of her house and call Connie out. She recognizes the driver, Arnold Friend, as the man from the drive-in restaurant, and is initially charmed by the smooth-talking, charismatic stranger in his fashionable -jeans. He tells Connie he is eighteen and has come to take her for a ride in his car with his accomplice Ellie. Connie slowly realizes that he is actually much older, and grows afraid. As Connie refuses to go with him, he becomes more forceful and threatening, saying that he will harm her family, until Connie is compelled to leave with him and do as he demands of her. The story ends as Connie gives in to his intimidation and leaves the safety of her front porch; her eventual fate is left ambiguous. No one can be optimistic of her outcome but this ending gives the opportunity to let the reader envision what is not described in the story itself.

The story where are you going, where have you been is started off with a set of these specific questions. It immediately gets us thinking what the story is going to be about, in a simple yet meaningful and mysterious way. We are given the impression that it is as if a parent is reprimanding the child. It may even turn towards a more philosophical sense as to where we have been and are going in our lives. After having read the short story it may even mean the unknown future of Connie and how she found herself in this situation. Never the less, it is distinct that in both the beginning and end of the story we are left with unresolved inquiries.

Joyce Carol Oates apparently based her story on a song by Bob Dylan, Its all over now baby blue, even dedicating the story in his name. In reference to the song there is a quote in the text, My sweet little blue eyed-girl giving us the impression Arnold Friend is thinking of the song itself as Connie did not have blue eyes. The song strongly implicates that Baby Blue is in another place, in her afterlife maybe, even in heaven.

Look out the saints are comin through, And its all over now, Baby Blue

This sky, too, is folding under you, And its all over now, Baby Blue

The lover who just walked out your door, Has taken all his blankets from the floor

The carpet, too, is moving under you, And its all over now, Baby Blue

Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you Forget the dead youve left, they will not follow you, The vagabond whos rapping at your door, Is standing in the clothes that you once wore

Equally possible is the case where the character of Arnold is Bob Dylan himself: fair skinned, tousled hair and enigmatic charisma over the youth of his time, a figure that was characterized to be out of this world by his then fans.

Additionally, it was inspired by the Pied Piper of Tucson. A man called Charles Schmid was sentenced to life imprisonment after killing three girls in Arizona and burying them in the desert. This person brings to mind the antagonist of the short story Arnold Friend, as they have many similar traits and characteristics, both non-fictional and fantastic characters are from a wealthy background, are eccentric in their dressing preferences. There even seems to be some complex with their height as it is implicated that they stuff objects in their boots to gain height, they are both arrogant and narcissistic yet carry a mystique, which seems to make them popular with the girls. Both prone on praying on younger girls and without doubt both equally capable of murder.

Having read this paratextual information and combined it, one is brought to imagine the fate that follows the protagonist of the short story Connie. Combining this knowledge we can imagine her being violated sexually and murdered violently by this unstable man. There are many implications of this in the text itself: Ill tell you how it is. Im always nice at first, the first time. Ill hold you so tight you wont think you have to try to get away or pretend anything because youll know you cant. And Ill come inside you where its all secret and youll give in to me and youll love me -. "The place where you came from ain't there anymore, and where you had in mind to go is cancelled out". And further on, Just two things, or maybe three. But I promise it wont last long and youll like me the way you got to like people close to you. You will. Its all over for you here, so come on out....

Certainly, being a piece of fiction, it is not necessarily taken from real life events, the writer may have these facts in mind but the short story itself is open to further interpretations. It can even be insinuated that this confrontation of characters was just in Connies dream, a nightmare while having drifted off to sleep in the sun. The moment she is ready to leave the front porch, we can imagine that she awakens abruptly and that is why the story ends this way. This can be thought of as a soft-core symptomatic reading. It might even bring some catharsis-closure to the readers that the character is safe.

Another such comprehension can be that Arnold Friend symbolizes the devil and Connie embodies the fragile and innocent victim of its evil. The reality in the description of this man is blurred. He is strange, out of this world. He has translucent skin, wild hair as if he were wearing a wig, the reason why he cannot walk properly is because instead of feet he has hooves. He seems to have considerable knowledge of Connies life, knowledge that only some supernatural clairvoyant could know of: He tries to impress her by chanting all her friends names. He is able to give an analytical description of all the members in her family, he is aware of her parents and sister being at her aunts house, the presence of an acquaintance of Connies that not even she had the knowledge of being at the barbecue and further to her horror the death of a neighbor. He even acts as if he is visioning the barbeque. Aunt Tillies. Right now theyre-- uh--drinking. Sitting around. Yeah. Sitting around. Theres your sister in a blue dress, huh? And high heels,,and your mothers helping some fat woman with the corn. Going further into this interpretation, it can even be incinerated that by calling her the blue eyed girl she is has lost her human form and transforming into something else, a ghost, maybe a zombie.

Towards the end of the story, She cried out, she cried for her mother, she felt her breath start jerking back and forth in her lungs as if it were something Arnold Friend was stabbing her with again and again with no tenderness, it is suggested that he is in the house and raping her, yet at the exact next moment he is situated out-side the house. As if he is a demon toying with her mind. And the ending shows the victory of the devil over the girl, manipulating her by luring her to him, making her go by her will. This may be a result of over-reading and may or may not be valid. It surely brings out another life to the text. Only the author can truly know the intentions of her work.

Throughout the reading, especially the dialogue between the two main characters there is a gradual build-up in emotion, tension, suspense, anticipation of the out-come. The readers are brought to fear for the well-being of Connie and may have a specific expectation for the ending. Various questions are raised: Are the threats of this man real? Why has he chosen her? Where will Connie be taken, what will be done to her? Does she deserve such fate? Many uncertainties arise during the course of discourse forming impatience and wonderment. Is Arnold Friend a demon, a nightmare or a strange man? Various expectations depending on the reader may be formed. These may be a wrong set of expectations but everything is in the mind, from where the authors writing ends and the readers imagination starts. For example the action and the sequence of events may suspect a specific code to be followed. There may even be a search to find closure in the end. Possibly even a need for further meaning of the text.

These expectations draw us to read on, to quench our need for closure. We are immediately drawn to her character and sympathize the misfortunate predicament she has been put in. We wonder how the story will turn out, whether the end will be shocking or if it will surprise us by twisting the verdict. Never the less all the characters emotions are passes over to the reader, she is faced with grave danger, she feels immense distress, she is living this experience out of her body, her life has irrevocably changed and her future looks scarce. Something truly bad is going to happen. This realization of both Connie and the readers, has our emotions heightened and simultaneously we are left with this climax of actions and thought.

Aristotle stated that for a piece of literature to be whole, there has to be a beginning, middle and end. Very cleverly Joyce Carol Oates has chosen to end her story without giving us a clear picture of what will happen or what actually happened. The constituent events are those necessary for the drive of the story. Anything further might have been just supplementary. This ending is of course deliberate. The description of such violence may have been terribly difficult to convey. It may even ruin the aesthetic of the piece. This gives the readers the chance to cultivate their creativity of imagination. It is true that when we let our imagination run free the result can be much more effective than any word for word description, even visual enactment. There is no limit to the malicious details the mind can conjure.

You'll need to sign up to view the entire essay.

Sign Up Now, It's FREE
Filter Your Search Results: