Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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What will happen to you?
Every person comes face to face at some point in life with vital decisions. Some of the decisions are minor ones, while others can bring turning points in life. In Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" she displays a particular instant in the main character's life. This character, Connie was caught in the difficult transition from her youth and innocence to a doubtful future. Throughout the story Connie alternates between two very different sides of her personality, one side where she is innocent and young, and the other where she is mature. Understanding the magnitude of Connie's character and her interaction with others is key to comprehending exactly how she came upon her final decision. In her home life Connie is very dissatisfied. First, Connie's mother continuously nags everything she does. Connie is always being compared her to her older sister June who is twenty-four and still living at home. It seems everything Connie does is followed by a spiteful remark from her mother. At one point Connie's mother states, "Why don't you keep your room clean like your sister? How've you got your hair fixed- What the hell stinks? Hair Spray? You don't see your sister using that junk"(153). The fact that this is written in the second paragraph of the story gives the reader immediate insight into Connie's behavior when she is with her friends later on in the story. At home she lives in her sister's shadow knowing her mother will never be happy with her. To avoid this outside of her house she assumes the role of an adult woman when she is where the older kids hung out. Connie managed to escape from reality through music and boys. Consequently, when Arnold Friend shows up at Connie's house after her parents have left, she is neither happy nor mad that he is there. She was not sure what to make of it. Perhaps if Connie had been as mature as she played herself off as she may have been able to handle the...
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