Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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An Interpretation of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" What would you do if a stranger came to your house and offered to take you away? He told you that he had been watching you and that he loved you. You wouldn't go, would you? Well, what if he told you your entire family would pay if you didn't leave with him? And he knew exactly who they were, where they were, and what they were doing. Of course, no one would like to imagine himself or herself in such a horrible situation, but this is exactly what happened to a girl named Connie in Joyce Carol Oates's short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Oates was inspired to write the story by a song from Bob Dylan called "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and an article in Life magazine entitled "The Pied Piper of Tucson" written about a real-life psychopathic killer.

The Pied Piper, whose real name was Charles Schmid (Smitty, for short), seduced teenage girls in the same way Arnold Friend did in the story. Gretchen Schulz and R.J.R. Rockwood explain the characteristics of the actual killer in a commentary essay "In Fairyland, without a Map: Connie's Exploration Inward in Joyce Carol Oates' 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'": "With a face that was "his own creation: the hair dyed raven black, the skin darkened to a deep tan with pancake make-up, the lips whitened…", Smitty would cruise "in a golden car," haunting "all the teen-age hangouts," looking for pretty girls, especially ones with long blond hair. Because he was only five-foot three, Smitty "habitually stuffed three or four inches of old rags and tin cans into the bottoms of his high-topped boots to make himself taller,"...