The critically acclaimed short story "Where are you going, Where have you been?- written by Joyce Carol Oates appears to be simply, a fictitious account of the grotesque actions of one Charles Schmid, a Tucson serial killer. In his article, A.R. Coulthard argues that the story unfolds in this exact manner: pure realism. However, this interpretation seems unlikely according to other critics who suggest that the author has in fact, entered the reader into the subconscious mind of Connie, a vain teenage girl as she unknowingly explores the consequences of a premature leap into adulthood. Throughout the story, Oates succeeds in telling the story, not of a chance meeting-turn-date rape, but instead, a dream sequence induced by popular culture, transformed into a self-actualizing nightmare.
In his article "Joyce Carol Oates's Where are you going, Where have you been as pure realism-, Coulthard argues that Oates's story is strictly, a written representation of a victim of the real-life murderer, Charles Schmid. He claims that the characters are not "personifications of abstract qualities but a demented killer and giddy teenage girl. Arnold Friend does not appear in a dream but at Connie's kitchen door- (506). In his analysis, Coulthard has merely scratched the surface of "Where are you going, Where have you been?- Moreover, in supplying no valid explanations for the story's supernatural characteristics; Coulthard robs the story of its literary quality. This interpretation may be logical, but it lacks the depth needed to sustain interest. .
Coulthard also claims that the story's protagonist perfectly matches the description of Alleen Rowe, Schmid's first victim. However this view seems flawed given the inconsistencies that exist in the story's realism. In his article, "Impure Realism: Joyce Carol Oates's Where are you going, Where have you been?- D.F. Hurley claims that the murder of Alleen Rowe does not at all resemble the supposed abduction of Oates's Connie so much as Coulthard would have you believe.