“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” :The Ride

As they all rode down the road with Ellie in the backseat, Connie began to think about whether or not she’ll ever make it back home. She kept questioning Arnold about where they are going and he continued to answer, “Just for a ride.” Connie began to worry. As time passed she realized that they are no longer in the city limits. Connie turned to Arnold, with fear on her face and asked, “Where are we going for the last time?” He turned to her and said, “We are just riding like I said before.” Connie questioned herself, was she going to live past this day? Every now and then she would ask the same question. When Arnold got tired of her asking he said, “Say it again, I’m going to kill your whole family.” Connie turned around and didn’t say another word. Ellie was still in the backseat holding the radio next to his ear. When she turned around and looked at him, he put his head down as if he could no longer help her.

They kept riding into another town. As they pulled up to a house, Connie began to get nervous. An older lady walked out of the house waving and Arnold waved back. Ellie dropped the radio into the front seat and hopped out of the car. “Hey Mrs. Oscar, how are you?” Arnold said. Mrs. Oscar replied, “Good, who is this pretty girl?” Arnold said, “This is my new lady. We’re taking us a little ride then I have to take her back home,” as he grabbed her chin and smirked. Connie jerked her chin away and turned her head the other way. He turned around and waved at Mrs. Oscar and started to back out of the driveway. Ellie stood there shaking his head and looked as if he had fear for her.

The more that they rode, the more nervous Connie had became. She started to think about how she wanted to apologize to her family. She wanted to apologize to her mother for being rude and not going to the family cookout. She wanted to be able to view June as a role model instead of an annoyance. She wanted her dad to ignore them the way he always did, but still show his love. Connie began to cry, thinking of all the memories of when she was younger. Arnold looked over and saw that tears were running down her face and pulled the car over on the side of the road. He looked over and asked, “Why all the tears?”

“All the memories I guess,” she said.

“Of what?”

“My family and everything that we had.”


“I know that you’re going to kill me and I know that my life is over.”

“I don’t want to kill you Connie, just give me what I want.”

“I don’t do what you want me to do.”

“Well Connie, I don’t want to get caught.”

“I won’t tell I promise, I’ll just tell my parents that I went to the movies with my friends.”

“Connie I really don’t want to give you the chance to tell.”

“Arnold, I promise that I won’t say a word.”

Arnold turned his head and he put his head down. Connie wondered what he was thinking about. He turned the car on and made a U-turn back towards town. Connie was hopeful that he was taking her back to her house. He said to her, “You know you must be special to me, you’re the only person that I did this for. The rest of them are dead.” Connie just looked down and didn’t say a word fearing that she would say that wrong thing and he would go back to his initial mission. As they drove past Ellie’s house, she started to think about all the warning signs that he gave her. She thought about how she wished they she would’ve took his offer to call the police to get him off of her property.

After hours of riding, they finally reached her driveway. He looked at her one last time and asked her if she is sure that she doesn’t want anything to do with him. She shook her head no and slowly started to get out the car.  Her mother walked out on the porch and looked as if she was mad. Arnold waved as if he was known her mother for a long time. When her mother realized that she did not know him, she grew a worried look on her face. She looked at Connie’s face of relief then looked back at Arnold’s face of regret.  She walked to the car and asked, “Who are you and why is Connie with you?”

“My name is Arnold Friend and I’m the one that your daughter has been waiting for” he said.

“Why is my daughter with you?”

“I wanted to take her for a little ride so we can get to know each other.”

“Of course she agreed to go; she’s always doing what she wants,” she said as she rolled her eyes.

Connie got out of the car with her head down. Her mother gave her a scolded look and just walked in the house. Arnold gave Connie a look that was to remind her if she told on him. He backed up and drove down the driveway. Connie never saw Arnold again, no one ever saw Arnold again.

Critical Reflection

            In my project, I continued from the ending of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Oates.  In my story, I talked about when Connie leaves with Arnold and goes for a ride.  As they are riding Connie kept questioning where they are going and Arnold gets frustrated with the questions and he threatens to kill her family once again. When Connie takes a glance at Ellie, he put his head down like he can no longer help. They rode to the next town and dropped Ellie off at his house and they kept riding. When memories brought tears to Connie eyes, Arnold pulled over and talked to her about the situation. After convincing Arnold into taking her back home, Connie let her mom believe the usual and no one ever saw Arnold again.

Joyce Oates' Where Are You Going, Where Have You  Been?/www.americanshortfiction.org

Joyce Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?/www.americanshortfiction.org

I choose to write this because I like to be creative. When I was younger I loved to make my own books. When my initial idea for the project came to a dead end, I pondered on what I could do. I knew that since I had a creative side, that this shouldn’t be that hard for me to do. When I first read Oates’ story I really wasn’t pulled into the story plot. As a kept reading and Connie was approached by Arnold it started to get very interesting. When I got to the end of the story, I was very disappointed because I wanted to know what happened. I felt as if the ending was so open-ended and it was left to your imagination what happened after that. When hearing about the why Oates wrote this story, I found it very interesting. Due to that reason I was interested in extending the story and adding my own ending what I thought after she left.

In my extended ending, I used third-person limited point-of-view just as Oates used in her story. Oates told the story as if she knew what Connie knew, so to help the story flow I used this also. By using this, you could hear what was going through Connie’s head while they were taking this ride and the fear she had in her heart. I used a narrative style of writing. I was the narrator of the story. With me being the narrator you hear the story from the outside and not from the inside. You get an overview of what everybody is thinking and not just Connie’s although you know what she knows.


Colum McCann- The Irish Storyteller

Colum McCann visited the Lenoir-Rhyne University as part of the Visiting Writer Series. McCann is an Irish writer and story teller who is the author of the novel Transatlantic. In his bike trip along the eastern seaboard, McCann wrote two novels that were never published and he is very thankful for that. Since they weren’t published he knew what he needed to work on as a writer. One thing that stood out to me was “I have the worse thing a writer could have, a good childhood.” He later explains that when you have a good childhood it’s harder to wrote good stories. He also said “Write about what you want to know or what you don’t know.” He said by doing this he found out interesting information about things we would’ve never learned about. One of his stories he wrote about his friends who lived in the flats instead of in a nice house. He learned about an experience that he could never learn anywhere else.

A Lesson That May Not be Taught in the Classroom: Racial Difference

The two short stories “Brownies” by ZZ Packer and “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara children are learning a life lesson that is unlikely to be taught in a classroom setting. “Brownies” tells a story about a Girl Scouts Troop that went to a camp and encountered Troop 909, lead by Arnetta they plan to fight or beat the troop for saying a racial slur. In “The Lesson,” Miss Moore takes the community students on a trip to teach them the value of the dollar. At the end of the trip the students learned that due to their social status and how much their parents make they can’t afford the finer things in life.

Packer’s and Bambara’s stories have their similarities and they have their differences. Although they portray the same the same message, the way that they deliver their message is different. Packer decides to make racial slurs the main issue and Bambara makes social status the racial issue. By them using different methods of teaching this lesson, they also show that you have to be the leader and not a follower. Packer and Bambara also had characters that expect the rest of the group to follow them and also to follow everything that they do.

In “Brownies” and “The Lesson” Packer and Bambara addresses racial issues that occur in America today. In these two stories they address that a Caucasians think they are better than African-Americans. In “Brownies” Arentta leads the troop to believe that Troop 909 felt as if they were better than them and could call them the word “nigger.” Even though they used the word “nigger,” the group also used the word “Caucasian” as an insult, “One day at school, about a month before the Brownie camping trip, Aretta turned to a boy wearing impossibly high-ankled floodwater jeans and said, ‘What are you? Caucasian?’” (741) Although it’s wrong to say the word “nigger” they feel as if it is okay to use the word “Caucasian.”  In “The Lesson” after looking in the store the kids automatically assume that the higher class that can afford the things is Caucasians, “Rosie Giraffe mumbles, ‘White folks crazy’” (59). They realize that if they ask their parents for these gifts, they would tell them no. They automatically assume that a white person would get what they would ask for.

Both of the stories contain a negative leader. In “Brownies” Arnetta is the leader of the Brownie group. When Arnetta says something is going to happen then it is going to happen.  Arnetta tells them that they are going to get revenge against Troop 909 and they have a hard time figuring out what, “’All right,’ Arnetta said, standing up. ‘We’re going to have a secret meeting talk about what we’re going to do.’ Everyone gravely nodded her head.” (744) Since Arnetta said that they’re seeking revenge they are going along with it. And also since Arnetta is the leader everyone listened when she said that they are going to have a secret meeting. In “The Lesson” the main character Sylvia feels like since she wants to act like she didn’t learn a lesson that she wants everyone else to also act like it.  Sylvia gets upset with Sugar for admitting that she learned the lesson that the dreaded what Miss Moore taught them, “Miss Moore is besides herself and I am disgusted with Sugar’s treachery. So I stand on her foot one more time to see if she’ll shove me” (60). Sylvia feels like since she doesn’t want Miss Moore to know that she learned her lesson then nobody especially Sugar should admit it also.

In “Brownies”, Packer decides to take the approach of using racial slurs. In the troop Brownies, it is a group of African-American girls and Troop 909 is a group of Caucasian girls. Arnetta automatically took them as a threat so she made up the lie that Troop 909 called Daphne a nigger, “’Man I completely heard the girl,’ Arnetta reported, ‘Right, Daphne?’”(742)  Arnetta claims that they called Daphne and she chooses Daphne because she knew that Daphne wouldn’t say anything. By Packer taking this approach, she addresses a common topic and appeals more to the eye. Packer shows also that everything you hear may not be true.

In “The Lesson” Bambara takes the approach of using ones social status to teach the lesson. Miss Moore takes them to a toy store where she knows that the toys are expensive. The students automatically knew that neither they nor their parents could afford to buy those toys. The kids noticed that social status is a racial conflict. They knew that they didn’t belong in that toy store; they automatically knew that their social class didn’t belong in that store:

What kind of work they do and how they live and how come we ain’t in on it? Where are we is who we are, Miss Moore always pointin[g] out. But it don’t necessarily have to be that way, she always adds then waits for somebody to say that poor people have to wake up and demand their share of the pie and don’t none of us know what kind is pie she is talking about in the first damn place. (59)

Sylvia realizes that her parents are working hard to get them to things they want, but she could never ask for thirty-five dollars just for a clown.

In “Brownies” and “The Lesson” their differences and similarity gave a great message. The lesson that is taught to kids was a valuable message. Packer’s method is by using racial slurs and Bambara’s method is by using racial status. The stories also convey that everybody need to be leader not a follower.


Works Cited

Bambara, Toni Cade. “The Lesson.” The story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 55-60.

Packer, ZZ. “Brownies.” The story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 740-754

“Strawberry Spring”

In the short story “Strawberry Spring” by Stephen King, the narrator talks about when he was in college eight years ago at New Sharon Teachers’ College. He talks about the odd transition between winter and spring in New England. It could be snowing inland and raining on the beach. This particular strawberry spring starts on March 16, 1968, and also is the day when Gale Cerman is murdered. As the rumors spread about what happened to her his roommate came back saying that it was her boyfriend, but the narrator denies it the whole. As the intense fog occurs, two more murders occur also, Ann Bray and Adelle Parkins. The police tried different methods and they finally give up and the mystery is left unsolved. One thing that the narrator mentions is that on these foggy nights he took walks to clear his head. In the present day, another strawberry spring occurs and so does another murder. His wife questions where he was at; her worry is that he was with another woman, but he also worries that he was with another woman.

While reading this story, questions popped in my head such as: “Who did this?,” “Did the boyfriend really do it?,” or “How can the police not catch this person?.” By the end of the story my main question was “What type of mental disorder does he have not to remember this?” Throughout the story the narrator shows signs of the killer being him, but due to the fact that the story goes on and doesn’t focus on what he says you ignore it. The way that he wrote the story raises the wrong questions so you will never expect the ending. You have to go back and look twice to see that the killer is him and he was unaware of that.

Joshua Bennett- Performance-Based Poet

On September 25, Joshua Bennett came to the Lenoir-Rhyne University for the Visiting Writing Series. He is a poet who does Spoken Word. Spoken Word is a performance-based poetry that tells a story. Bennett uses his dynamics of words and his tone of voice to create the drama within the words. Bennett did several poems that reflected his life. One of the poems that stood out to me the most was the one about his current girlfriend. He told a poem about his home town and how he feels about it and how it felt growing up in a small town that is in the shadow of a big city. In ENG 231, most of the works that we do read is works of fiction. So most of the things that we do read isn’t true. His spoken word is shaped around his life. Speaking from his heart helped him get his word to all the audiences.

The Common Battle Between Mother and Child

In Amy Tan’s story “Two Kinds” she tells the story of a girl who struggled to meet ends with her mother about what she wanted to be. Her mother wanted her to be the best due to the fact that she lost everything. The narrator struggled to understand why her mother wanted her to be the best and she had a hard time accepting the fact that her mother is trying to change her. After a while she starts challenging her mother. After seeing the disappointment in her mother, she tries to get better with it and at the end she finally realizes that all her mother wants is her best.

The narrator starts to get tired easily with her mother trying to find the prodigy inside of her. After so many nights of testing, she gets tired of repeating the same answers. She states that “So now on nights when my mother presented her tests, I perform listlessly, my head propped on my arm” (822). Her actions show that she doesn’t want to be disobedient to her mother so she keeps taking the quizzes but at the same time she is getting tired of all of the quizzes. After her mother starts her on piano lessons she enjoys them at first, but she gets tired of doing the same thing repeatedly. The narrator rebels against her mother and says “’No!’ I said, and I felt stringer, as if my true self had finally emerged” (827). She starts to rebel because after her obeying her mother so many times she’s getting fed up with her mother not listening to her. The narrator can no longer handle her mother’s strain on her to become what she wants her to be.

No matter how much you don’t want to do what your parents want you to, you never want to see them disappointed at you. The narrator performs so she can make her mother proud but the performance goes wrong. Out of all the “boos” she remarks “But my mother’s expression was what devastated me: a quiet, blank look that said she had lost everything” (826). She hated her mother’s disappointment. She didn’t want to be everything her mother wanted her to be, but she wanted her mother to know that she has tried her best at it. On the bus ride home she couldn’t stand having her mother disappointed. Her mother’s silent disappointment spoke loudly on the bus “When we got on the bus to go home, my father was humming the busy-bee and my mother was silent” (826). On the bus she hears her father humming, her mother’s disappointment stood out. She hated every minute of it. She did what she never wanted to make her mother feel.

In this short story the narrator captures that essence of a normal American child. She’s struggling with being able to handle what she wanted in life and what her mother wanted of her. She has a common issue with her mother just like every teen. She doesn’t want to disappoint her mother but she also wants different outcomes in her life than her mother wants. By Amy Tan telling it from the narrator’s point of view, she tells it through the perspective in the common audience.

In this chapter of the Joy Luck Club Amy Tan explains the struggle of the narrator’s relationship with her mother. She could never rationalize until it was too late. Her mom had died and she couldn’t fully tell her how much she appreciated it.


Work Cited

Tans, Amy. “Two Kinds.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. ED. Ann Charters. Boston:     Bedford/St.Martin’s, 821-29.

Are you Drifting Through?

In the movie Declining By Degrees, they argue that college is just a stamp that is given to show that you’ll be successful. In today’s economy you have to have a college degree to be able to live middle class. Studies have shown that sixty-eight percent of college students works at least fifteen hours per week. Twenty percent of those students work full-time. Due to working so many hours many of those students doesn’t attend class regularly. Even though colleges generally accept three-fourths of those who apply only half will graduate. One issue that is being recognized is the work that students aren’t putting forth. Forty-four percent of college professors are part-time. Many professors tries to accommodate students by making some of their books optional or inserting a grading curve. Is that truly the problem? Are the professors worried about their reputation? Surprisingly twenty percent of students are drifting through college. When students were questioned they admitted that they expected more out of college. Some say that students responds more to challenge.  One out of four students doesn’t make it to their sophomore year. Most of the students that they interviewed were overtaken by the big classrooms. They knew that their professor wasn’t taking attendance so they don’t go. Some students doesn’t know about advising until it’s too late and they have to drop put. Brittney Schmit lost her interest in college when she was done with her favorite class. She ended up going through an identity crisis and she planned on dropping out. Luckily, she was placed in a into a class that later helped her figure out her major.

I feel like here at Lenoir-Rhyne you get everything that you expect out of college. I’ve had numerous numbers of papers. Somethings I feel like that isn’t everything that they tell me.




Rare Genes

download (1)My four-year-old cousin suffers from a rare disorder called 2p Deletion. It is a developmental disorder where she may be missing part of an chromosome. It can be a disorder that she got from ancestors or she could just be the first to have it. She lives the life of an normal child. She can’t walk like other kids and she doesn’t talk as clear as regular people. She went through so many tests to figure out what was causing her to develop late. One of the test that she was tested for was autism but the test came back negative. After that it still left a lot of questions for the doctor. She also has epilepsy, which is a disorder that  causes to have seizures. Because of this disorder she has to go to a special doctor overnight to make sure that her brain activity is still healthy.

I chose to write this because I was thinking about it one night. She is my hero because for her to just be four, she has been through so much.  A lot of people don’t know what I am talking about when I first tell them about it. I knew that I would want to put this in my blog.

Compensation or No?

I am choosing to write about the non-required reading that I read on Yahoo. This article was about  9/11 emergency workers seeking compensation. The emergency workers that responded to the Pentagon didn’t have to fight as many ash and fumes. Many of the emergency workers that went to the Pentagon are signing up for the same compensation as the workers that responded to the Twin Towers. 24,000 emergency   workers who responded are applying for compensation from getting an illness linked to fighting the fires and cleaning up the rumble at ground zero.  Studies at the Pentagon has shown that nobody was exposed to any toxins. Capt. Scott Quintana   was an emergency worker who dug throw rubble to find bodies. In 2010 he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, which is a type of cancer. Unlike previous studies at the Pentagon his cancer could be linked to toxins in the environment. Even he doubts that it was caused by the days he spent cleaning through that rubble. He thinks that it links back to him being a fire fighter and being exposed to toxins all the time. He applied for compensation trying to cover his chemotherapy. He said he isn’t going to be upset if he isn’t able to get compensation.

I read this because it looked like an interesting topic. It was posted a couple of days before 9/11. I think his cancer could possible linked to him digging through that rubble. Cancer isn’t discovered immediately . Yes it could also be from him being a fire fighter for so long. I don’t think he should fully rule out that he developed cancer from digging through that rubble.