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Behind The Facade Of A Killer: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? By Joyce Carol Oates

1386 words - 6 pages

Agatha Christie once stated, “Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions” (Thompson). In a perfect world, there is no such thing as crime and every action committed by a person has a positive outcome. But knowing there is no such thing as a perfect world, incidents happen. The Federal Bureau of Investigation declared recently that crime has risen .7 percent since 2011 (Department, U.S Justice). With a brief love for crime and violence, Joyce Carol Oates conveys these unjust acts of disobedience into short stories. Though her stories prove intriguing, and her details of physical characteristics are exact, she lacks the realistic details of an actual killer. Presented in her short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Oates character Arnold Friend lacks the potential to kill in comparison to Charles Schmid. The real life serial killer Arnold depicts. Schmid is a much scarier killer with a more demented mindset.
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? “tells a story of teenage girl Connie, whose wild child antics cause her to become the special interest of Arnold Friend. Spending time at the local hangout for older kids, and committing lustful acts in alleys, Connie disregards the odd brown haired boy in the gold jalopy staring her way. Unnoticing Arnold until the Sunday afternoon his gold jalopy pulls up her drive. “ He wasn’t tall, only an inch or so taller than she would be if she came down to him … his face was a familiar face, somehow: the jaw chin and cheeks slightly darkened, because he hadn’t shaved for a day or two, and the nose long and hawk –like” (Oates 441). Intrigued by his looks, Connie fails to notice the overall situation in front of her. A random boy from whom she has never spoken too is sitting in her drive, and she is unluckily home alone. “She couldn’t decide is she liked him or if he was just a jerk, and so she dawdled in the doorway and wouldn’t come down or go back inside” (Oates 440). Never fully realizing the consequence of her actions in giving Arnold the attention he desires, Connie leaves Arnold in complete control of the situation. “So much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it” (Oates 448). Manipulating Connie to get into the car, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” ends with the pair traveling into the vast unknown. Having an uncanny relation to the real life story of a certain psychotic serial killer.
First published in 1966, the same year as the Charles Schmid trial, it is easily seen through physical characteristics and background information where Oates receives her inspiration for the tale. Physically Arnold is characterized to match Schmid’s appearance exactly. “He had to bend and adjust his boots. Evidently his feet did not go all the way down; the boots must have been stuffed with something so that he...

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