Analysis of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
In the story the author, Joyce Carol Oates, tells of a fifteen year old girl named Connie who has a strong sense of confidence but a false sense of security. In an attempt to explore all of her “trashy daydreams” (Oates 988) life has to offer, she rejects the role of a sister, daughter, and overall good girl”, and condemns herself to suffer the death of her innocence. Connie obsesses about her looks and relishes in the fact that boys and even older men, find her attractive.. The presence of several antagonists; Connie’s mother, Arnold Friend, and Ellie, make the story become very interesting and introduces several real world dynamics that the reader can actually feel. The story is a cautionary tale of a young girl who flirts her way into coming face to face with the devil, in the form of a man named Arnold Friend. The dialogue between Connie and her mother is intensely real and represents a relationship of resentment by a mother who is trying to live vicariously through her daughter. Connie’s mother is frustrated at the fact that Connie is beautiful, young, and carefree. Connie’s contempt for her mother pushes Connie to rebel more and more to be spiteful. Connie changes throughout the course of the story by becoming more careless and more provocative. While becoming more daring, she experiments with acting older than she is and devilishly promiscuous. She goes too far and ends up face to face with danger when a stranger she did not notice, notices her. The setting of the story influences the plot and the characters in many different ways. Connie’s home is her haven, her protection, but that protection is challenged when Arnold Friend shows up and threatens to, “Hurt Connie’s people”(p.995) if she does not come out of the house. The climax indicates that Connie has no choice but to agree to the demands of Arnold Friend that she, “Maybe you better step out here” (Oates...