Presentation on theme: "For each of the following sections read the page of information and then choose one of the questions to answer. Each response to the question should be."— Presentation transcript:
For each of the following sections read the page of information and then choose one of the questions to answer. Each response to the question should be 4-6 sentences. In addition to the 4-6 sentences you do need to include one quote to support your ideas.
"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" wrestles with some of the oldest Big Questions in the history of humanity. What is the nature of evil? Why is there suffering in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? The sinister Arnold Friend seems to take on metaphysical proportions in the text: more than just an individual, he is Death, everything that opposes life, love, and joy. It is only in confronting Death that Connie is able to transcend her own individual self and aspire to something higher. But this isn't just a metaphysical horror story. Set in the context of 1960s America, the story also explores how violence might be built into the structure of society, into mores and values that some might feel are oppressive or unjust.
Discuss the following questions: 1.So Arnold Friend is a creep. What does he say and do that makes him so terrifying? 2.What are the physical and psychological effects of Arnold's threats on Connie? How does Connie react to the pressure of these threats? How would you react? 3.Do you see a change in Connie's mental and emotional state over the course of the story? Compare and contrast different moments to support your view. 4.What motivates Arnold Friend? Is he an ordinary person, a psychopath, or something more mythical, like a representation of evil, death, or even masculinity in general? Point to specific instances in the story to defend your opinion.
Most of the action in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" takes place in the main character's home – or rather, right on the threshold, in the doorway of the kitchen, to be exact. By confining the action this way, the story is able to stage a larger question about agency: How free are we? What determines our actions? What life can we choose? What determines the life we desire? For the protagonist, the home is on one hand the place where she loses herself in daydreams fueled by popular music and film. But it's also associated with parental restrictions and the dreary life of her suburban housewife mother, a life that might await in her own future. Yet the alternative, a life literally parked on the driveway in Arnold Friend's car, is filled with threat. The possibilities for free will in such an impossible situation is a central question of the story.
Discuss the following questions: 1.Take a look at Connie's actions and her state of mind over the course of the story. Does she seem to be in control of her actions? In what instances, if any, do we see her asserting control? 2.Do you think Connie is making a noble gesture of self-sacrifice at the end of the story, or is she just giving in to Arnold? 3.Take a look at the positions of Arnold, Ellie, and Connie during their conversation. When is Connie in the doorway? When does she move away from it? At what point does Arnold head toward the door? How does the staging of their actions help us understand the deeper questions about free will that underlie the story? 4.Why don't Arnold and Ellie just break into the house and take Connie by force? How would the story be different if they did? How would your understanding of the story change if what happened to Connie after she left with Arnold was included in the story?
Connie's family seems "normal" in the most conventional sense: a nuclear family with a stay-at- home mom and a working dad, children, and family barbecues on Sundays. But it's precisely this ordinariness that makes Oates's treatment of family life so disturbing. Most of the attention is drawn to the women of the family, whose relationships are fractured by a society that sees them as little more than sexual, marriageable, domestic objects. Without any more affirmative notion of femininity, the women – sisters and mother – are at odds with one another: they are rivals or enemies, but they can't seem to be friends. The absence of the father also eliminates the possibility for the daughters to develop a meaningful relationship with an important male figure.
Discuss the following questions: 1.Describe Connie's relationship with her mother. Do you think genuine love lies beneath their bickering? Why do you think there's so much friction between the two? 2.Take a look at the other women in Connie's family – her sister, her mother's sisters. How are they and their relationships described? How do these female relationships affect Connie? 3.Where are the fathers in the story? On seeing Smooth Talk, the film adaptation of her story, Oates remarked that she would have liked to flesh out Connie's father to suggest, as "subtly" as she could, a parallel between her attraction to her father and to Arnold Friend. How would your reading of the story change if Oates rewrote the story along those lines? 4.Arnold claims that Connie's family would not have made the same sacrifice she is making for them. Do you agree? Why or why not?