Wright here Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Introduction

Here"s the spooky fact: it"s pretty tough to acquire through also an Intro to Lit college class without coming throughout Joyce Carol Oates"s eerie "Wbelow Are You Going, Wbelow Have You Been?" And as soon as you do, it"s downideal impossible to forget.

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Maybe you"ll be blvery own amethod by the emotional depth of the primary character. Maybe you"ll be forever before creeped out by the unforgettable antagonist. Maybe you"ll be puzzling over the surprise meaning—what do the numbers on the side of Arnold Friend"s convertible mean? Or maybe you"ll simply be steamrolled by the bleak-yet-transcendent finishing.

Another option? Being—like us—influenced by every one of the above.

First published in 1966, "Wright here Are You Going, Wbelow Have You Been?" came to be an instant classical. It"s on a regular basis consisted of in literary anthologies of good fiction, and also was also adapted right into a popular 1986 film, Smooth Talk, starring Laura Dern.

According to Oates, the story was inspired by a Life magazine story about the serial killer Charles Schmid, who, prefer the story"s villain, was an older guy that preyed on adolescent girls. So what motivated Oates to pen this little tale? Was she fascinated by the twisted psychology of murderers?

Nope—not precisely. What stuck with her was "the disturbing reality that a variety of teenagers—from "good" families—aided and abetted his crimes" (Source).

Part of what makes Oates"s story so deeply affecting is that it deflects the majority of of the attention away from the would-be killer—that is still rendered as being totally terrifying—and directs attention to the victim, Connie, and her humdrum suburban presence.

The story is set in 1960"s middle-Amerihave the right to, and also the ideological turmoil of the times simmers simply listed below the surface. You understand around the 1960"s—it was a decade when moral and social conventions were being challenged left and also best, and the rush of Amerideserve to optimism and also materialism after World War II was being wondered about. This was the time of the Civil Rights Movement, the birth of the hippie counterculture, and also the wild popularity of rock bands prefer the shaggy-haired Beatles. Issues such as feminism, sexual freedom, and adolescent sexuality were hot topics.

In other words, it was a time of great, controversial upheaval.

And, like the 1960"s themselves, this story has actually generated loads o" debate because its publication. Oates has actually described Connie"s actions at the end of the story as an "unexpected gesture of heroism," a decision to sacrifice herself so that her family members would reprimary unhequipped. But not all critics are encouraged. Some check out the story as an anti-feminist allegory: Arnold Frifinish is Connie"s punishment for having actually sexual feelings for boys. Others check out the story as a feminist critique of a male-overcame society: the finishing is basically tragic, Connie"s entry to Arnold Frifinish standing for the methods woguys are oppressed in a patriarchal society. Some also check out the last scenes as evidence of Connie"s psychosis: there"s no ennobling act here, just a delicate psyche falling apart (see Showalter"s "Introduction" for a wide sketch of the debate).

Multiple, conflicting interpretations—that"s the risk the story absorbs leaving the ending hauntingly open-finished. The "large sunlit reaches of land" that dazzle Connie at the end of the story may as well be a stand-in substantial variety of interpretations that generations of readers lug to it...which is one reason why the story continues to captivate us, concern us, and haunt our desires.


What is Where Are You Going, Wbelow Have You Been? About and Why Should I Care?

Here"s the difficult, cold truth: horrible things happen to ordinary people.

We"re guessing you"re acquainted via that reality. You"re canny; you know about stranger hazard, fearless investigations, shocked witnesses, and grieving family members. It"s the type of point that our society is fascinated with—a citizen, minding his or her very own business—is struck dvery own by evil forces that have actually been lurking nearby the entirety time. You"ve check out the news articles/watched sufficient local TV/ binge-watched present prefer Twin Peaks, Law & Order: SVU, The Killing, and also True Detective.

In reality, you could be a small sick of hearing around just how horrible points happen to simple world. And if that"s the case—especially if that"s the case, you need to review "Wbelow Are You Going, When Have You Been."

Because it"s very rare that a story of small-tvery own abduction is told from the point of see of the victim.

Disclaimer: this story ain"t straightforward. In fact, it might be among the the majority of upsetting stories we"ve ever before read...despite the fact that it has no blood, no physical violence, and no tools. We think that"s bereason we"re so closely inside the victim"s head in the moments leading as much as her abduction that we begin to feel prefer her.

She goes from bemoffered and flattered that a male she met once has verified up on her doorstep to feeling icked out that he"s obviously lying around his age to terrified that he"s speaking prefer a deranged lunatic to near-hysterical as he threa10s to beat down her door and injury her household. And we experience these eactivities also as she does.

But don"t obtain the wrong idea: this isn"t equivalent to shouting "Don"t go in there!" at a movie display screen as a character moves gradually in the direction of a basement door. We don"t know more than our protagonist. We"re not feeling also remotely smug or cozy. We"re there in her head, empathizing.

See more: Inspirational Stories Of Mercy Found Me, 10 Inspiring Stories Of Forgiveness

Even if you review this story through an eye in the direction of the abstract—and think us, there are so many juicy ways to analyze this story that it unpacks prefer a Fiat holding a thousand clowns—you"re still going to come amethod unsettled, rattled, and also Googling "what"s the ideal house alarm system."

And we think that"s both a testament to Joyce Carol Oates writing prowess and the truth that there"s nothing as powerful as deeply empathizing through a character.


Wbelow Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Resources


Oates Home PageFrom the University of San Francisco. Lots of great stuff below, including the complete texts of some of her pieces.

"Wbelow Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"A full-text version of the story, from an authorized Joyce Carol Oates website.

Real-Life InspirationOates was inspired, in part, to compose this story as a result of the actual murder of teenage Alleen Rowe by Charles Schmid. You can review about Schmid right here. He also stuffed his boots to make himself taller.


Background InfoIn this Google Books ptestimonial, you have the right to read Elaine Showalter"s introductions to Oates"s story and also an essay from Oates on her story and also the film, Smooth Talk.

Smooth Talk ReviewThe NY Times evaluation the 1985 movie based upon Oates"s story.

Roger Ebert ReviewEbert"s review of the movie – he gave it 3.5 stars.

"It"s All Over Now, Baby Blue"Lyric"s to Bob Dylan"s song, which was among Joyce Carol Oates"s inspirations for the story. (Oates dedicated the story to Dylan.)


Movie TrailerCheck out the trailer for the 1985 movie adaptation, Smooth Talk.

Clip from the MovieWatch a couple of scenes on YouTube.


Franz Schubert, "Der Tod und das Mädchen" <"Death and the Maiden">Lyrics and performance of a Schubert song based on a layout ("Death and the Maiden") that inspired the story.


Death and the MaidenA website exploring the "Death and the Maiden" layout in Renaissance art. Discover even more about how this is associated to Oates"s story in our conversation on "Symbolism."