Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fishbowl #6: "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been"

Isn't Joyce Carol Oates the best?  I love her.  This is one of my favorite short stories.  Let's, as T.S. Eliot suggests, end with a bang, not with a whimper.

117 comments last time.  Holy cow!  You guys are fast typists.  A few thoughts for today:

1)  As always, I love that you take the time to compliment one another's great ideas.  Keep it up!

2)  Your responses are thoughtfully crafted and proofread.  Well done.

3)  Thoughtful use of connections.

4)  I especially loved your text-based and level three/ theme questions.

5)  Avoid questions that result in yes/ no response (usually these begin with "were", "do", and "does") in favor of more open-ended constructions.

Happy last day of Gothic fishbowls!

85 comments:

  1. Class-What does Connie's obsession with material objects represents?

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    1. I think it represents how she has a incorrect idea of how mature she is. She believes that she is very mature, but her materialistic views show how childish she actually is, because she has no real values.

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    2. Connie's materialistic personality prevents her from staying grounded with reality. She's vain and arrogant, two traits that have led her to become ignorant.

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    3. It kinda made her a target for this creepy stalker guy! If he had been watching her for any amount of time, he could see that she is a very materialistic shallow girl who is susceptible to any attention,especially from guys. She shows her priorities with the way she acts and the clothes she wears.

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    4. Connie's obsession with material objects represents her insecurities. It helps to build the character of the lonely beauty queen that she plays in this story and it shows how no matter how much physical and material beauty she obtained, she was never fully satisfied. It helps to bring across the message that there is more to life than worldly beauty.

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    5. I agree with Baergen! I also think that her material obsession is her way of filling the pain that her mother and sister cause her. She is constantly being compared to June and her mother is always disappointed in her, and so I think materials is her 'escape'.

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    6. Great question! The firm materialistic ideals that Connie holds so close really solidify the distractions in life. These distractions in Connie's life ended up defining her weak point and concluded in life or death.

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  2. Why did Oates choose to not give the name of Connie's "best friend", however she named other minor characters such as Ellie?

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  3. Would you consider Connie a hero, a victim, or somewhere in between?

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    1. Somewhere in between. I don't think she was a hero....she did not save anyone and was not heroic in any way. However, she was not a victim yet. Arnold didn't really do anything yet, he has just threatened. I think her actions definitely make her somewhere in between.

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    2. I definitely wouldn't consider Connie to be a hero because she really did not stand for anything. I see her as a victim because she just played into the conflict and did really nothing to work against it.

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    3. I agree with Hailey, she is somewhere in between. She didn't really do anything that would be considered heroic and there is ambiguity at the end of whether or not she was a victim.

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    4. I would consider Connie to be a victim, not necessarily a victim of Arnold, but rather a victim of the world that she lived in. To me,she never seemed satisfied or happy, but would rather fill her life with things to fill the holes that her family life lacked; she is a victim of an empty life.

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    5. I would consider Connie a victim of sorts, at least in the sense that she was a victim of her own actions. Connie lead a double life, timid and childish with her family and confident and mature in public. She believed she was her "public" persona, believed that she was mature, and this left her vulnerable to Arnold Friend, who she had tempted with her "maturity."

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  4. How did Connie's mother and her sister, June, affect the way she acts? Did her actions result in her being stalked?

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    1. Connie wants to believe that she hates her mother and that she's capable of being independent. Connie's sister June is the example of what her mom wants out of her but at the same time it seems to be what Connie doesn't want to become. I think the way she acts especially when she's not at home could have attracted this wanted yet unwanted attention.

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    2. Their very steady and plainness made her want to be the opposite, flighty and shallow. And because she was the aforementioned, she was an ideal target for Arnol.

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    3. I think her mother and sister influenced the way she acted in that she wanted to be different than them. The author described both her sister and mother as plain, boring people; because of this Connie spent her life wanting to stray away from this image. We see it in the lavish shopping trips she goes on, the hanging out late, and in her own vanity. These habits are far from those of plain, boring people.

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    4. Connie's mother definitely helped to shape the person that Connie became. Her lack of love and acceptance towards her daughter caused Connie to turn elsewhere for the attention that was lacking at home; to places and people such as Arnold.

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  5. Class- Throughout my reading of "Where are You...?" I couldn't help but feel an air of "uncanniness" about Arnold. What were some of the other feelings you had about Arnold throughout the story?

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    1. I definitely agree with you. Even Connie felt an air of uncanny. She kept saying how she thought she knew parts of him. While I was reading, I pictured Arnold to be a collection of all the guys she had met and been with and thought she was in love with, almost like he came back to haunt her.

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    2. True, but I felt like the uncanny was present because of his ambiguous nature. We don't really know why he is doing this and his motives. It's that fear of the unknown that was demonstrated in The Crucible.

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    3. I definitely think that when Connie figures out that Arnold is listening to the same music as her, it adds to that feeling of canniness. And the fact that it was the same music from which she derived her skewed perspective of romance and the adult world mimicked how she knew Arnold, knew the idea, but did not understand him (did not understand the full depth of adult life/maturity.)

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  6. Class-What does Arnold's last name, Friend, have to do with smooth talking, familiar ways?

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    1. By giving him the name Friend, it gives you a better first impression of who he is. You automatically consider him to be a nice, friendly gentleman. To readers it also displays his luring and tricky personality.

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    2. It also has a similarity to the word fiend, which definitely gives you a bit of a sense of the character.

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    3. The last name relates to the concept of the uncanny. Like the girls we looked at from various horror movies, they appear to be quite innocent and youthful, while Arnold presents himself as warm and familiar. On the contrary, there is still something about them that triggers a response of panic in the back of our minds though it's easy enough to ignore that we get ourselves into bad situations. (eg Danny with the twins in The Shining and Connie with Arnold)

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    4. I noticed throughout the story that Arnold was often described in a way that would make him seem appealing and friendly. Connie notices how nicely he is dressed and how muscular he is, he calls her 'honey' and 'sweetheart' and one particular line that stuck out to me was, "He sounded like a hero in a movie, declaring something important." Overall, his character is very realistic of a predator...he is trying to seem innocent and friendly and harmless when in reality he wants to hurt Connie.

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    5. Yes Arnold's name in general is used to lure and trick Connie, and the reader into gaining assumption that he is indeed, a friend, someone to trust. The name is just a cover, just like the make-up on his face. using the "secrete code" he gave in the story, 33-19-17, 18 is between 19 and 17, and the 18th letter in the alphabet in R. Taking R out of his name you are left with: A Old Fiend. The author used his name to symbolize that like his personality, his name is a trick to gain trust, but once uncovered you see his true nature not a friend, but a fiend.

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  7. Why did Joyce Carol Oates title this story the way that she did? How do those questions apply to the story?

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    1. To me, it almost represents Connie's life. It's almost like Oates is asking Connie, "Where have you been in your life? What has happened? Now where are you going? What path have you decided to take?"

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    2. It's creepy how these questions are the things that Arnold Friend knows about Connie and all her family.

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    3. It really connects with what Connie's character is. That she is two sides of a coin.

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    4. It represents the ambiguity in the story. In the end we're still left asking questions.

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  8. How do you think Connie fits into the role of the "typical" teenager? Why was she written in the way that she was, and how does the character help to get the point of the story across?

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    1. I thought it was done so that it the reader(s) would identify with her and so that the events that happen in the second half effect the reader(s) even more.

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    2. Connie is "typical" in the way she has a split personality. Many teenagers seem to act very differently in their home or around their parents than they do with their friends and when they're away from home.

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    3. Connie definitely fits the typical stereotype of the average, careless teenager. She was written this way so that readers can really relate to what they consider reality. The use of this role helps us understand what it truly was like for Connie and how something like this could possibly occur.

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    4. Her shallow and materialistic tendencies make her the "typical" teenager. She was written like this perhaps to show the dangers that teenage girls face from lurking men. If she wasn't this typical girl, there would be no story. She would have run from him or called the police, or even more likely been with her family at the BBQ.

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    5. She fits the role of a "typical" teenager because she goes out with her friends, listens to music and she is concerned with her looks and how the opposite gender sees her. She also is "finding" herself and figuring out who she is. I think this is effective because most people our age can relate, so it made the ending even creepier for me because I could see that situation happening to someone I knew.

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    6. Connie leads a double life, something I think all teenagers have to an extent. She wants to be independent from her family and in attempting to achieve this, she brings an unwanted aspect from one life into both (in this case, Arnold) The naivety of her character provides her with a dangerous trust in anyone that appears to be as interested in her as she is.

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  9. What are some differences between the Dark Romantic characters we have read about and then these characters in the Southern Gothics? What makes them a Southern Gothic character?

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    1. The Dark Romantic characters tend to be less life like, more like exaggerations of one perspective of human nature rather than a whole person, where as Southern Gothic characters tend to be more realistic-if on the extreme side of pettiness, etc. And I think both of these types of characters are effective in their own way. DR characters drive home the idea the author is trying to portray, yet the SG characters are more relatable to the reader.

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    2. Nice question! We get a sense of a cover of a sort of two sided person in one character. Arnold was two sided in the fact that his name was separate extension from the way he acts. William Wilson had an opposing dobbleganger that was a conflict with himself.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. What point is the author trying to make about sexuality, especially in young women?

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    1. I'm not sure what to think. In some ways, I think she is trying to show that plainness and being boring is the way to go, because like June, you can be praised and rewarded. However, I also think she might be saying that this sexuality that Connie portrays can indeed attract negative attention. Overall, however, I'm not sure what she wants us to think...

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    2. The author is trying to bring to light the struggle that so many young women seem to face these days, the struggle to feel loved and accepted. Unfortunately, just like Connie, many girls turn to guys in order to fulfill their need to feel self worth and as a result put themselves into dangerously vulnerable situations.

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    3. I think she is trying to make a point about rushing into sexuality in young woman. I think this story really showed this because Connie wanted to be older and mature and viewed in that way by older men, but when it actually happens, she is terrified. I think it shows that even though young girls make act that way, they don't actually want to have that image.

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    4. Hailey brings up a good point about being on the straight and narrow; and the benefits it brings. There is a formula for success in life and it is to be a consistent, clean cut, smart person. The author glorifies this in the character of June and vilifies the opposite of this in Connie. Granted looks do play a small factor in the ways of the world, it is basically the three components listed above that make the most effective and successful people. June fits the bill of all the good qualities while Connie does not.

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  12. What role do adults and authority figures play into the story?

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    1. There's a lot of contrast in the various adult characters. They range from Arnold Friend, the stalker who wants Connie to betray the innocence of her young age to Connie's sister, who is very responsible and unremarkable. It's hard for me to make a definite generalization of all adults.

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  13. Connie wishes at one point in the story that she and her mother were not alive because of all the problems they have. Is it possible that Arnold Friend wasn't actually real and was just visioned by Connie as an escape route to her problems, much like in William Wilson?

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    1. AHHHH that's scary.....Now that you mention that, that did stick out to me. I was wondering if she was going to commit suicide because of that....

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    2. Whether or not Arnold Friend is real or imaginary, I have no clue. But I do think that either way he was not an escape route to her problems, but rather he was the force that yanked her out of her reverie. He invoked catharsis, though in a negative connotation, if you will :)

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    3. That is so interesting! Oh my lord I never thought of that!! I think that this is an amazing possibility and that this shows the distortion in her life with the way she feels about her family and the self destruction superficial characteristic she holds.

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  14. What is the connection between fantasy and reality in this story?

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    1. I saw a lack of connection towards the end when Arnold seems to be unreal because supposedly he stabbed her but she still gets up to follow him as if in a trance. I couldn't tell whether or not Arnold was real or not or if she had died or was dreaming or something.

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    2. Yeah, I agree Abby. It was difficult to determine fantasy and reality towards the end of the story, but I think this was just parallel to how she had been living in a place in between those two states, like how she believed she was mature, but this was not true...

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  15. Class- There is an old saying that goes: stand for nothing, fall for anything. How does Connie's lack of work ethic and morals (essentially a moral compass) make her an easy target for a guy like Arnold Friend? Does this contribute to how easily she is swayed to go with Arnold Friend?

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    1. I definitely think that her personality and work ethic play into her vulnerability. At the beginning, it is mentioned how she is always looking at herself and "she knew she was pretty and that was everything". If she thinks looks are everything, she is not only opening herself up to easy disappointment (if someone thinks she *isn't* pretty) but also to someone like Arnold who specifically uses her prettiness against her.

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    2. Connie is very easy target for someone like Arnold because she's so caught up in herself that she will gladly spend her time with someone that likes her as much as she likes herself. Like Hailey said, looks are what matter to her and once she finds someone who shares a common interest in them, nothing else really matters. She was able to ignore AF's strange behavior (until it was too late) because of this.

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  16. The main character is a normal teenage girl, so how does this affect readers? Does it affect different types of readers more than another?

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    1. Honestly, when I was reading this, I was home alone and I actually got really scared. I think the fact that Connie is a teenage girl makes it much more realistic and personal to me. It's scary that something like that could happen to me.

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    2. With her being a teenage girl, I expected her to have enough common sense NOT to go with this guy. To pick up on the red flags that were clearly dropping around him. And then when she didn't, when she went with him, I face-palmed. Since I am a teenage girl, and I consider myself to be relatively responsible, I expect her to do the same.

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    3. It affects readers in that they can relate to it on a more personal level; everyone knows a teenage girl. A story like this one would affect teenage girls such as Connie on a different level than it would others because it really represents so many things that teenage girls face today, and it brings to reality the dangers of the lifestyle that so many live.

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    4. Great point Ruth! That's the thing with common sense, it is very uncommon. It is surprising how uncommon common sense is in this day and age; and Oates show it through Connie, while she praises common sense through June. A person with common sense would expect Connie to act logically and disengage Mr. Friend and send him on his way; but that would make for a very uninteresting story. We are impacted so profoundly by the story, logical people being impacted the most, because Connie was illogical and let Mr. Friend sway her into coming with her.

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  17. How are characters and their roles different in Southern Gothic than the other short stories we've read?

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  18. What does the music in this story represent?

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    1. For Connie and many others, it is an escape from reality. Also, it is something that is familiar to her, which makes it very uncanny when she recognizes the music is Arnold's car.

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    2. The music created an illusion of romance and love in Connie's mind. This was a marked contrast with the reality that she experienced through her experience with Arnold Friend.

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  19. Class-How does the author use ambiguity in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been"?

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    1. (after having looked up ambiguity on dictionary.com) I think that ambiguity is big in Arnold's character. For me, half the time I thought he might be okay (a little creepy still) and the other half of the time I knew he was purely bad.

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  20. How do you think Connie's double personality ultimately ended up affecting her?

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    1. She was so used to having a split personality and when Arnold came to her house, both of these personalities clashed. For example at first she acted like she did when she was out with her best friend but then she ends up screaming for her mom and trying to lock herself up in the safety of her home.

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    2. Connie's doubled personality ultimately made her a better target for Arnold friend because of this was a trait they bot shared; different personalities. This also may have affected her judgement and thinking, one part of her was aware of the sense of forbidding with Arnold, but her other side was intrigued and enjoyed the attention that he had applied to her.

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    3. Connie's split personality portrayed the lack of confidence that she had in herself, had she been more confident, she would not have been so susceptible to Arnold's tricks.

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  21. What was the point of Ellie in the story? It seems like he was just a character thrown in by the author which didn't serve much of a purpose.

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    1. The way Arnold talked to Ellie, I sincerely thought that he was another person that Arnold was interested in and kidnapped. Ellie seemed very meek and almost like a servant to Arnold.

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    2. Ellie helped to play into the uncanny of the story and the feeling of the split reality that we face towards the end of it. To me, the whole story was quite bizarre and Ellie's character helped to add to that element.

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    3. Ellie seemed to bring a sense of literary people. If there's 2 witnesses then these people must be real. At the end I questioned whether or not Arnold was real but he had another person with him. It think maybe Oates but Ellie in the story to mess with your mind.

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  22. In the other southern Gothics church and morals had a strong play in the story, like what Macy has observed, this one made it a point to show that the characters avoided church and Connie had weak morals to follow. How do you think this help set up the scene in the story?

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    1. Say Arnold really was the Devil, this would play well into him coming into her life. If she doesn't go to church then its easy for him to get through holes into her life.

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  23. Again, I think it all goes back to her vanity and conceitedness. Why would God and church matter when she's pretty?! I also think that because Connie had weak morals, she was more willing to give herself away to people, especially men, in order to get attention, and that's why she didn't get away from Arnold quicker than she did.

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    1. Jaylin, that was in response to your question.

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