Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a short story that poses many questions centered around the protagonist, Connie and the antagonist Arnold Friend and his “comrade” Ellie. The fate of Connie at the end of the story is still up for debate after all these years after the story was published in 1966. The main question posed is who actually is Arnold Friend? Is he the devil or something else? The answer may never be fully known but in my opinion I think that Arnold Friend is a figment of Connie’s imagination that is supposed to symbolize Connie’s entrance into womanhood.

Since Connie is a rebellious fifteen year old girl that fights with her parents and constantly wants to do her own things, she is acting like a normal teenage girl that is of course not yet fully mature. She enjoyed going out with her girlfriends and complaining about the “hard life” she had and the constant nagging her mother gave. One night when Connie picks up a guy named Eddie, she “drew her shoulders up and sucked in her breath with the pure pleasure of being alive, and just at that moment she happened to glance at a face just a few feet from hers. It was a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold (Oates, 320). Connie constantly tries to ignore this man, who the reader eventually learns is Arnold Friend, yet she cannot look away while he says, “Gonna get you baby” while wagging his finger. This quote could symbolize Connie’s eventual fate since womanhood comes to every girl and Eddie did not even notice Arnold saying anything since men do not understand the way girls enter womanhood. Connie continues to be compared to her wholesome sister June by her mother with a disapproving tone, but Connie returns the favor by taking her mother for a fool. In fact, “Connie thought her mother was so simple that is was maybe cruel to fool her so much”(Oates, 321). This constant bickering between mother and daughter...
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