Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Joyce Carol Oates and Sowing Wild Oats: Context for "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" College

The life and times of Joyce Carol Oates dynamically impact the short story, “Where You Are Going; Where Have You Been” in which music, myth and mores shape the social text corresponding with the 1960s. The 1965 rock song, “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” lyrically and historically harmonizes in Oates’ short story, “Where are you going; Where have you been.” First of all, the eerie antagonist of the story, Arnold Friend, a serial killer-rapist, represents a fictionalised version of Charles Schmid who because of the Tucson murders of 1966 caught Oates’ attention as the character base for her story.

Oates herself has confessed the inspiration and impact that “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” has on this particular narrative. “In ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ Oates makes an ordinary tale extraordinary by juxtaposing two powerful legends: the modern rock hero (the story is dedicated to activist-song writer Bob Dylan), and the ancient demon lover” (Bender). The lines of the song’s first stanza read, “Yonder stands your orphan with his gun, crying like a fire in the sun.” The bereft and dangerous child alludes to none other than Arnold Friend/Charles Schmid. Schmid grew up a parentless life – he came from parents who rejected...

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