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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,840 ratings  ·  139 reviews
 Joyce Carol Oates’s prize-winning story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” takes up troubling subjects that continue to occupy her in her fiction: the romantic longings and limited options of adolescent women; the tensions between mothers and daughters; the sexual victimization of women; and the American obsession with violence.  Inspired by a magazine story abou ...more
Paperback, 178 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Rutgers University Press
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  1,840 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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“Be nice to me, be sweet like you can because what else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in?—and get away before her people come back?”

Supposedly inspired by Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, this is a very short, dark little story about what to me seems a reasonably typical self-centred, 15-year-old girl who’s convinced life is better somewhere else with someone else, doing something else.

Teen angst, anger, frustration, can’t-wait-to-grow-up-and-sho
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this second semester of my freshman year of high school. It was when I was running for Miss Lenexa and we were selling candy to raise money for the Legler Barn. I ate almost all of my own Milky Way bars, and to this day, every time I read one of the short stories from this, I can taste a Milky Way.
Liam Porter
In this frightening story, a stranger called "Friend" preys upon a teenager home alone. Connie is worn down with cleverness with words. The satanic figure seduces her in spite of his ugly face. He swings between being delusional and threatening, succeeding in projecting his will upon her. Despite his own delusions, he is relentless enough to delude her in turn. He remarks:

1. The screen door can easily be smashed, he warns her. "Why lock it. It's just a screen door, It's just nothing."
2. The pare
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super disturbing but still intriguing!!
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, drama
Oates has been known and acclaimed for her unique show-and-tell narrative style. In this story, she demonstrates the truth in this. Where are You Going, Where Have you Been? tackles the simple themes of beauty and ugliness. The narrative creatively explores their dark sides through a beautiful teenager, Connie, and a stalker, Arnold Friend, who lures and threatens Connie with the simple use of words. There are very few narrative/declarative parts in this story. In fact, you will mostly read dial ...more
Sarah Schantz
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous source for anyone who teaches the now infamous and widely anthologized story by Joyce Carol Oates or for anyone who is as obsessed with the story as I am.
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: essays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda Alexandre
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
So... JCO is a genius. She is. Not all of us see it, because her narrative cleverness is delivered in the less pretentious way possible, but the way she describes without describing, with emotions portrayed mostly by dialog, I think it's rare. And genial. ...more
Cindy  Dracula
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was panicking throughout the whole thing. I'm not feeling too good about the subject but we can't pretend evil isn't out there. Four stars for good portrayal of bad reality. ...more
C.C. Rising
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Joyce Carol Oats packs a powerhouse of psychological fear in this classic short story, a fear more menacing than any gun, knife or weapon. The main character is pretty fifteen-year-old Connie, who longs to break free from the chains of her jealous mother, emotionally absent father and boring, steadfast older sister. She does so by daydreaming, listening to music, sneaking away to a drive-in restaurant with her friends and experimenting sexually with boys.

The psychological terror begins one Sunda
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This short story was a bit disturbing but kept me intrigued the entire time.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I would like to read this actual book, which contains the story plus a lot more material about it. I only read the story itself, but it's a doozy! One of the creepiest little tales I have ever read, and I did not expect that at the beginning! And it has so much more going on than the actual events depicted, I feel like this story alone could be the basis of a whole women's studies college class. And, it is dedicated to Bob Dylan! I couldn't think why as I read. It mentions music frequently, but ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been is a short story by Joyce Carol Oates available free online at While her bald-headed daddy, her ever-critical mommy and her good-example older sister, June have gone to a Sunday BBQ, fifteen-year-old Connie, restless and rebellious, has stayed home to wash and dry her hair. Bold as you like, Arnold Friend and his little mate, Ellie drive right up the driveway. Arnold is insisting Connie come out for a drive. Conni ...more
Jennifer Laxton
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just finished re-reading this for a Master's thesis-- it is amazing and layered. The first time I read it, I was so distraught that I told my teacher that no one should ever read it, especially not high school kids. On the second read, I knew everyone needed to read it, especially high school girls. ...more
This was just really creepy, like really creepy. Serial rapist killers are not things I like to read about.
Nisha Sadasivan
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, horror
Is this a horror or a thriller? Doesn't make much of a difference to me. Fabulous writing. and pretty scary. Human fantasies and follies are beautifully portrayed. ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For school
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Beautiful and disturbing.
Luis Gonzalez
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Choices, throughout our lifetime we must all make them. Can you remember how difficult it was to choose an outfit during the emotional hurricane known as adolescence? Joyce Carol Oates’ Where are you going, where have you been?, depicts a teenager’s hormonally distorted views of sexuality, vanity, and the dangers that come with it. For many of us, we can relate to the main character, Connie, as she slowly strays away from the moral path in search of excitement. I found this short story enjoyabl ...more
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story, 2015
Read the short here:

The story veers away from a tale of a young, albeit shallow (she's a 15/16 year old girl who is rather vain and judgmental... so your average 15-16 year old girl), woman living a life with her non-attentive father, overly critical mother, and non-existent but frumpy sister into the realm of magical realism and horror.

When everyone but Connie, our protagonist, goes off to a barbecue, a man named Arnold Friend appears at the home and Co
Three Circus
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Cold Chill for a Hot Summer!

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” tells the story of Connie and her desire to be older. When adulthood comes to her door, though, she finds the idea of leaving her house terrifying. Oats takes you out of the mind and into the real world. Connie is a typical 15 year-old: self-absorbed and knows much more than her parents. While her parents think she’s spending her Friday nights at her friends, they’re actually out in town trying to pick up boys. One afternoo
Kori ☾
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some spoilers ahead.

This masterpiece was published in 1966 a time where women were supposed to cook and be told what to do. In this story we meet the naive, vain, and young 15 year old Connie. Connie cares about herself, wishes she was dead, but let's it be known how attractive she is. She has some issues within herself and when she wishes she was dead it is sort of a foreshadow of what is to come.

When her family decides to go out she stays home where we are introduced to another character, Arn
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
2.75 Stars out of 5 Stars

Somewhere between indifference and likeness is where I lie with this story. I do feel bad that I have been posting such neutral ratings as of late but I will digress for a moment to explain. Perhaps I am just hard to please when it comes to short stories. No matter how developed, I usually feel like I always come up a little short when reading a short story (all but for a few cases; e.g. The Happy Man by Jonathan Lethem and Pheonix by Chuck Palahniuk). It's not that the
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I understand why a story like this would be very important for us to read but reading it only made me feel very upset. I mean, Connie, the fifteen year old MC, in the end goes along with the "murderer" (though it isn't confirmed but my professor relayed his whole theory of the numbers painted on Friend's car symbolized the ages of both himself and his victims). What I didn't like was how Connie was portrayed as this 'wild' girl whose simple eye contact with Friend led to his growing interest to ...more
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Unsettling and chilling. This short story unfolds with an oily elegance that I don't think I've experienced before. The atmosphere changes so subtly that you don't realize how uncomfortable you are until it's too late. It already has you in its grip. Where you belong.

Not really interested in the rest of the book's content, the (over)analyses in particular miss their mark for me, and the film adaptation doesn't seem faithful to Oates' vision. Mainly I'm just reviewing the short story itself beca
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I feel that this story wanted to touch on many things but every attempt I saw at the beginning was truly, I felt, a waste of text. To be rather blunt, the descriptions of the relationships was grating on my nerves and took away sympathy from the main character. When we finally got to the cryptic Arnold I felt winded. However, this part really sent chills through me. Unfortunately, I was constantly pulled out of the fear of the situation by the silliness of Connie and the slowly annoying back and ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I ordered this book from an online used bookstore after reading an interview with Caroline Kepnes (the Author of the You series) where she said because of this short story is why she became a writer in a lot of ways. So I was intrigued. It's good. It's subtle and creepy. It was inspired by the real life case of serial killer Charles Schmid who pursued young girls. ...more
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
I wish there were more books like these that would further discuss JCO's writing. So many times after reading a piece that she wrote I am left wondering about many things that I have just read, and being able to read reviews and essays would help me understand alot more. ...more
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more

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