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“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is one of the most discussed pieces of literature ever. The ending of this story was undistinguished, though an attentive reader will understand everything. Arnold Friend initially charmed Connie by the smooth-talking. Connie slowly realizes that he isn’t what he pretends to be. Arnold becomes threatening, saying that he will harm her family unless she goes with him. He said that the place where Connie lived was nothing but a cardboard box he could knock down any time. “You know that and always did know it,” he added. Finally Connie is forced to go with Friend and do what he demands of her.

The story ends as girl leaves her home and her fate is left ambiguous. It is suggested through context that Connie is raped and then killed by this man, who really represents the serial rapist and killer, The Tucson Pied Piper. In the movie “Smooth Talk”, he drives her back after the dirty deed is done. She returns to parents tainted but safe. Rather than death, it is replaced with the death of Connie’s innocence, which has been on life-support through the whole movie. This actually takes away the powerful impact that this story originally had.

“Smooth Talk,” – a movie based on a short story, did not get so much attention as a short story. Oates depicts an image of a young girl trying to become a woman, and then being seduced and confused into following the wrong path. Movie depicts an image of a young lady throwing away her innocence, becoming a slut, and then eventually giving in to the attacks of the evil one. Oates writes about a loss of innocence, while the “Smooth Talk” tells about further actions after the loss of innocence. The only resemblance the movie had with the story was in the last conflict. The movie lacks the emphasis, shock, and power of the story. The movie provides us with more graphic portrayal of the conflict between Connie and her offender. The movie is not as powerful and strong as the book.

The story was written in 1960s. It was time when moral and social conventions and roles for women were being challenged. Issues like sexual freedom and adolescent sexuality were hot topics. The story explores how the oppressive attitude toward sexuality in a typical society not only puts at risk a women’s sense of self but it is also connected with sexual violence and violence toward ladies. Connie lives in her fantasy world. She was unhappy at home. Her father “didn’t bother talking much to them”. Connie desired male attention, and in some strange way Arnold became to Connie the way to escape into her fantasy. The unsophisticated girl is stepping into her fantasy world, or at least she thinks so.