A Time That Changed America

Table of Content

The time that changed America, the was, the 1960s were was a historical time, and those alive at that time and beyond would have learned about it firsthand and from the pages of history. Most headlines were grim, full of fear, and dread, and sent the nation into a panic. A different type of music style was emerging at that time and though older folks thought it was too sexual and risky for the younger ones, they listened, danced, and enjoyed it anyways. What a time to be alive and to be a part of an emerging culture. In understanding where men and women stood on different ends of the spectrum, the story Where Are You Going Where Have You Been? Joyce Carol Oates opens an insightful can of symbolism to the struggle of the times. Symbolism is an important part of understanding literary stories and Where Are You Going Where Have You Been? Is full of symbolism. Symbolism is an important part of understanding characters, moods, settings, and plots, and answering the who, what, when, why, and how questions. Connie is the main character in Where Are You Going Where Have You Been? And throughout the story her struggles, decisions, happy times, inner conflicts, and why she is the way she is. Music, the title, numbers, and the reference to Death and The Maiden are symbols present in the text.

According to (Oates 1), “Everything about her had twofortunatesides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home” being away from home is her escape to a place or place she no longer feels suffocated by those that claimed they loved her but show little regard for her existence. Her laugh, the way she dressed, and her walk were different when she was out, and it made her happy. Having no one to answer to is a lot of teenagers’ dreams, but is it always the best thing? No, it’s not but no one was saying anything to oppose her and she carried on. Whatever Connie said was believed without further questioning or inquiry and that is not how it is supposed to be, but actions have had consequences, and the consequences come in the most unexpected ted way. Connie is a rebellious teenager and her rebellion stems from being constantly beaten down, pushed to the side, and not cared for to trying to find her path. A path that can only lead to destruction because she was going where she wanted to go and not where she has been.

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Music is represented from the very beginning of the story. According to (Caldwell par 1-8), “the ‘Jingling’ of the girl’s bracelets, to the music at the drive-in restaurant, that made everything so good”. And, it did make everything good Connie and her friends did enjoy the feelings they had getting to hang out with the older kids. The music to Connie feels empowered, though it fits into the background. It is their saving grace and their answer to prayer especially Connie who gains confidence whenever music is because of the internal struggles she is faced with. She needed the music to get through what she was about to indulge in. There is a deeper meaning to the jingling of the bracelets that Connie and her friends would not have understood because of the vulnerable state they were in. Jingling is a warning sign that something bad is on the verge of happening and cannot be prevented. According to Evan’s analysis of Cask of Amontillado “The jingling of the bells on Fortunato’s cap in oFortunate,indandfortunatein and firsthand with,  fortunate Fortunatereaders an n a washedthereof how Fortunato’s jester costume symbolizes the consistently foolish nature of his character”. Fortunatealleyway did not understand that he was being lured, he thought he was having a good time with his friend, drinking wine that he loves, in an alleyway, and just having an adventure. Had he understood the significance of the name of the wine and the place he was trailing through he would have understood to an extent. Just like Connie, of she felt she was on a sweet escape that could lead to good things. Both Connie and Fortunator were intoxicated one by wine and the other by music. It was exhilarating for her and gave her the freedom she needed to release her inhibitions. As she was walking alleywayalleywayout the drive-in restaurant, she was looking at all the faces of those around her she noticed a boy a nice shaggy boy in a gold convertible jalopy, she looked at him and was mesmerized that she couldn’t help looking back at him. It’s as if he knew exactly where she was going to be at the exact moment and what she was going to do because he was ready for her even though she was not ready for him. The music and the loudness gave her a boost.

Connie was at the restaurant with Eddie for a couple of hours and then down an ally way and came back in time to be picked up by her friend’s father. What was happening in the alleyway,? Was there music there? There had to be because if there was none, she would not have had the confidence she had to go to the alley way with Eddie. Connie found the time today dream daydream, about the boys she had been with and it caused her to have conflicting feelings that she could not describe without referring to music. Connie was scared when the car pulled up in front of her house and from her r,insecureesponses it is clear she was uncomfortable. She did not appreciate Arnold Friend being there and wanted him gone. After she told him “Look I don’t even know who you are,” Arnold said to Connie “Hey, Ellies’s got a radio” and Connie then begin to hear the music, after that she was more at ease and seemed to enjoy Arnold Friend’s company. He knew exactly what to do to make her respond to him and he was getting exactly what he wanted out of her.

The death and the maiden symbolism leave an eerily feeling lingering. What do death and the maiden represent and why are they connected. When understanding the significance “An innocent young girl seduced by way of her the vanity; she makes death for insecurerotic romance of a particularly American/trashy sort” (Widmayer 1), it leaves the question did Arnold Friend seduceinsecur Connie? He did and in such a subtle way it appeared normal. Connie did not like the idea of Arnold Friend being on her property and she felt insecureherselfalleyway, but her lack of confidence in her ownelfownself led her to believe he was her savior the longer he stayed and spoke to her. It is hard to tell what happened after even though we do we don’t know. As stated, in the text when Arnold said to her “I’ll tell you how it is, I’m always nice at first, the first time. I’ll hold you so tight you won’t think you have to try to get away or pretend anything because you know you can’t. And I’ll come inside you where it’s all secret and you’ll give in to me and you’ll love me”. Does it mean that he will possess her, kill her or take over her mind and body? Connie is seen as the maiden because she is young and becomes seduced by the devil and his advocate. The devil feels her can do anything to her because it’s what she asked for though she did not say those exact words. If death is her friend, why does it make her do things she would not normally do and why would she go with it to an unknown place. Arnold Friend knows Connie inside out because he knows her every action before she does it. When she threatened to call the cops, his words to her made her take back her statement. Connie is not used to answering to anyone but herself and this is new territory, so she feels she needs to comply to ensure her safety and that of her family given that they are still alive.

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A Time That Changed America. (2022, May 16). Retrieved from


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