Fantasy versus Reality in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates has a constant theme of reality and fantasy running parallel for 15 year old Connie. This short story begins with a description of Connie’s vain personality. The narrator describes her as pretty and self-centered (Oates 421). To emphasize her selfishness, Connie is contrasted with her sister, June, who is chubby, plain, and well-behaved. Connie’s mother always praises June for her work ethic and help around the house, but says Connie can’t do anything due to “trashy daydreams”. There isn’t much of a father figure in Connie’s life due to her father being away for work most of the time and detached when he is home (Oates 422). This could be one of the many reasons for Connie’s need for male attention. Her relationship with her family seems to contrast how Connie visualizes her own life. At the young age of 15 Connie isn’t sure if she still wants to be a child or grow into a woman. The narrator states, “Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home: her walk that could be childlike and bobbing, or languid enough to make anyone think she was hearing music in her head, her mouth which was pale and smirking most of the time, but bright and pink on these evenings out, and her laugh which was cynical and drawling at home – ‘Ha, ha, very funny’ – but high-pitched and nervous anywhere else, like the jingling of the charms on her bracelet” explains her inner turmoil of an adolescent growing into a woman (Oates 422). While at home, Connie wanted to still be seen as a child, but outside of her family’s eyes, she sought to be sexually desired and popular. In order to keep these two worlds separate, Connie constantly lies to her mother about her whereabouts and who she is spending time with. Connie and her friends are dropped off at the mall and then wander to a nearby hangout spot...
References: Oates, Joyce C. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008. 421-32. Print.
Theriot, Michele D. "The Eternal Present in Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”." Journal of Short Story in English 48 (2007): 59-70. Print.
Urbanski, Marie. "Existential Allegory: Joyce Carol Oates 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Studies in Short Fiction 11 (1978): 200-03. Print.
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