“Where Are You Going Where Have You Been?” presents many themes and symbols to the reader. One that jumped out at me while reading the story was the overall feeling of innocence. Joyce Carol Oates shows us innocence from the very beginning of the story to the end where Connie loses self-control and power.
From the first paragraph of the story we learn that Connie is a young fifteen year old who longs for attention and acceptance. I was able to relate to the story better when I paused and remembered what it was like to be fifteen. What things were important to me back then? How others viewed me and how well I fit in was where most of my effort went. Those were also important for Connie. The first paragraph also says, “she knew she was pretty and that was everything” (Oates 318). She finds great satisfaction in boys who find her attractive. But her personality is different at home. She hides this side of her when she’s around her family. When she’s away from home and out around boys, she lets loose. She is not as mature as she would like to think she is.
Desperately wanting to be found attractive by older men, she finds herself trying very hard until Arnold Friend shows up in her driveway. That quiet day becomes greatly disturbing for her. Arnold Friend wants Connie to get into the car and go for a drive with him. While initially exciting for Connie, it becomes obvious of his more violent intentions as the conversation continues. She tries to seem in control and unfazed, but she eventually breaks down and is overpowered by him. Her innocence is revealed even more when she relies on her father to stop Arnold from going any further. “If my father comes and sees you” (Oates 327).
Once Arnold gets a powerful victory over her with words, she begins to psychologically breakdown. Her spirit is also broken