Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

by

Joyce Carol Oates

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Arnold Friend’s Car Symbol Analysis

Arnold Friend’s Car Symbol Icon

Arnold Friend arrives at Connie’s house in his car, and Connie notices that not only is it battered from a previous accident, but also that it is marked with sentences, such as “DONE BY CRAZY DRIVER”; Friend’s own name; and the numbers 33,19,17, which appear to reference a verse in the Bible, which reads “When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, ‘Where are you going? Where did you come from?’” This seems a possible clue regarding Friend’s possibly supernatural identity. Friend continually asks Connie to come for a ride in the car; it is the means by which he will take her away from her home, and, by extension, her family and her life as a teenager. In this way, getting into the car will bring an end to Connie’s childhood innocence. As Friend’s own name is written on the car, it is clear that it functions as a direct extension of Friend himself and his intentions. The car is also another aspect of Friend’s disguise: like his clothes and the music he claims to love, it is intended to make him seem normal and unthreatening to Connie. Ultimately, however, as Connie notices that one of the phrases painted on his car is outdated, it functions as a clue that Friend is older than he says and not what he appears to be.

Arnold Friend’s Car Quotes in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

The Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? quotes below all refer to the symbol of Arnold Friend’s Car. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? published in 2006.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Quotes

She drew her shoulders up and sucked in her breath with the pure pleasure of being alive, and just at that moment she happened to glance at a face just a few feet from hers. It was a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold. He stared at her and then his lips widened into a grin. Connie slit her eyes at him and turned away, but she couldn't help glancing back and there he was, still watching her. He wagged a finger and laughed and said, “Gonna get you, baby,” and Connie turned away again without Eddie noticing anything.

Related Characters: Connie, Arnold Friend, Eddie
Related Symbols: Arnold Friend’s Car
Page Number: 120-121
Explanation and Analysis:

“Now, these numbers are a secret code, honey,” Arnold Friend explained. He read off the numbers 33, 19, 17 and raised his eyebrows at her to see what she thought of that, but she didn't think much of it.

Related Characters: Arnold Friend (speaker), Connie
Related Symbols: Arnold Friend’s Car
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
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Arnold Friend’s Car Symbol Timeline in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

The timeline below shows where the symbol Arnold Friend’s Car appears in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Agency, Control, and Manipulation Theme Icon
The Presence of Evil  Theme Icon
Music and Romantic Fantasy Theme Icon
On her way to Eddie’s car, Connie feels overwhelmingly happy, a feeling she connects to the music playing more than her... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
The Presence of Evil  Theme Icon
Music and Romantic Fantasy Theme Icon
...that seems to come out of the music itself. After a while, she hears a car come up the drive. Upon running to the window, she sees it’s not a car... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
The Presence of Evil  Theme Icon
Music and Romantic Fantasy Theme Icon
Connie goes into the kitchen and watches the boys in the car through the screen door. She recognizes the driver as the boy (soon revealed as Arnold... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Agency, Control, and Manipulation Theme Icon
The Presence of Evil  Theme Icon
...whether or not she likes the boy and asks him about what’s painted on his car. He now very carefully gets out of the car and moves around it. He reads... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Agency, Control, and Manipulation Theme Icon
The Presence of Evil  Theme Icon
Music and Romantic Fantasy Theme Icon
As Friend stands beside the car, Connie observes his appearance; he is dressed the way all teenage boys dress (tight jeans,... (full context)
Appearances and Deception Theme Icon
Agency, Control, and Manipulation Theme Icon
The Presence of Evil  Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence  Theme Icon
...continues listening to the radio in a kind of daze until Friend pounds on the car to get his attention. When Ellie turns toward Connie, she is shocked to realize that... (full context)