As Connie grows more frightened of Arnold's escalating threats, she eventually allows her own imagination to run wild, to the point where she can neither think clearly anymore, nor even manage to use her own telephone to call the police.
The fright-inspiring actions of the fearsome Arnold, are foreshadowed early on, when he warns Connie, the night before, after first noticing her outside a drive-in restaurant: "Gonna get you, baby" (p. 2279). From then on, Arnold's quest to "get" Connie feels, to Connie and the reader, in its dangerous intensity, much like the predatory evilness of malevolent fairy tale characters, e.g., the Big Bad Wolf, or the evil stepmothers (and/or stepsisters) that fix on Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and other innocent young female characters as prey.
The shaggy-haired man who drives "a jalopy painted gold" (p. 2279) first notices Connie at a "drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out" (p. 2278). Like Connie, the reader becomes frightened by the appearance, words, and actions of Arnold and his accomplice "Ellie Oscar," who both seem like evil incarnate, especially after they arrive at helpless Connie's front door, taunt her, threaten her, and refuse to leave.
Connie's fear (and the reader's) then escalates. Ellie keeps asking Arnold "You want the phone pulled out?" (p. 2288), a refrain equally as predictable as when another wolf, in another fairytale, "The Three Little Pigs," threatens in a similarly rhythmic refrain "I'll puff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!" Next, Arnold even tells Connie, as she starts to lock her front screen door in hope of protecting herself from him, in a similar wolf-like fashion:
It's just a screen door. It's just nothing.... anybody can break through a screen door and glass and wood and iron or anything else he needs to, anybody at all, and specially Arnold Friend.... I don't mind a nice shy girl but I don't want no fooling around.'... Part of those words were spoken with a slight rhythmic lilt... [emphasis added] (p. 2287)
As Bender observes, of Oates and her literary works:
At the center of much of Oates's work is concern about the singular power of the self, and the high cost of the struggle for autonomy. In this, she is like those contemporary "third force" psychologists she has studied and admired chiefly Maslow and Laing) who posit a different human ideal: communion rather than mastery.
Within "Where are you Going, Where have you Been?" A key motif that Joyce Carol Oates develops, again perhaps based on her own background and potentially, also, on her and/or others experiences, things sinister; threatening; invasive, even (yikes!) potentially fatal.
Joyce Carol Oates in fact shows evidence, within her short story "Where are you Going, where have you been?" Of in fact being both a nostalgic writer and an also sometimes (even gruesomely) realistic one: e.g., in terms of her juxtapositions of old fashioned fairy-tale elements against frightening contemporary working-class feminine realities (and threats). It is perhaps this quality of her work, then that most convincingly and revealingly underscores the perhaps-biographical roots of these (intricately-entwined yet stubbornly opposing) literary and personally creative aspects of her literary works.
Bender, Eileen T. "Joyce Carol Oates, b. 1938." Retrieved November 16, 2006, at http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/oates.html.
Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page. Retrieved November 16, 2006, from: http://www.usfca.edu/facstaff/southerr/wagner.html#preface html>.
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