Allegory in “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been”

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Joyce Carol Oates employs an allegorical representation of evil in order to depict the concept of temptation. Oates makes references to hell via the character Arnold Friend, who represents the devil, and his target Connie, who succumbs to temptation through her vanity. The narrator indirectly suggests that Arnold Friend is Satan by providing distinct hints that can be readily deduced by the reader. The narrator indirectly suggests that Arnold Friend is Satan by providing distinct hints that can be readily deduced by the reader.

The main focus of the story revolves around a young girl who is on the verge of adulthood and exhibits typical teenage behavior. Instead of going to the movies as planned, she secretly visits a drive-in restaurant to meet boys. The protagonist is rebellious, self-centered, and has a strained relationship with her mother and sister. While at the restaurant one time, Connie sees a boy named Eddie and decides to leave her friend behind in order to follow him to his car. As they leave the burger joint, Connie notices another boy driving a bright gold car who smiles at her. A significant amount of Connie’s time is spent daydreaming about boys and love in a vague and general way. Despite frequently arguing with her mother, Connie believes that she receives better treatment than her sister June because of how she looks. Connie’s mother can often be found wandering around the house wearing slippers while engaging in gossip with her sisters.

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The following weekend, Connie’s family is going to a barbecue but Connie chooses to stay home to listen to music and relax. At the drive-in, she encounters Arnold Friend who eerily signals his intention to pursue her. Despite finding him creepy, Connie initially finds Arnold Friend and his companion Ellie intriguing. Connie approaches the front porch where the boy invites her for a ride and compliments her appearance. Although tempted, Connie decides to stay at the doorway and declines his offer. When he presses her again, Connie insists she has other obligations, amusing Arnold Friend. Connie admires Arnold Friend’s vintage teenage attire, reminiscent of the 1950s or 1960s. Curious about the destination of the ride, Connie inquires where he would take her, causing Arnold Friend amusement. She asks them to leave, but Arnold Friend refuses to comply without her presence. Fearing for her safety, Connie attempts to seek help inside the house but fails. Consequently, he manipulates and threatens her and her family until she surrenders to his demands. The story concludes with Connie walking down the path towards the car as it is implied that she may never return.

In conclusion, the narrator implies that Arnold Friend is Satan through several clues that the reader can easily deduce. One hint is the name that Oates gives to the character: “Connie looked away from Friend’s smile to the car, which was painted so bright it almost hurt her eyes to look at it.”

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Allegory in “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been”. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from

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