English Composition 102
20 February 2011
Selfish Teenager: Selfless Act
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a short story written in 1966 by Joyce Carol Oates. The story takes place in a time where people are exploring their sexuality even though it is still considered to be wrong. Oates tells the story of Connie, a young girl who struggles between her desire to become a women and her desire to do what is right. The unfortunate result of her conflicting desires force Connie to make a choice between herself and her family. Connie’s ultimate selfless act transforms her into the women she longs to become.
The story begins by giving the reader a glance at Connie’s personality. Connie is a normal fifteen year old girl whose major concern is how she looks and how others see her. Connie’s mother is constantly telling her to “’Stop gawking at yourself, who are you? You think you’re so pretty?’”(623). Like other teenagers Connie is in constant conflict with her mother and sometimes wishes her mother dead. Throughout the story Connie continues to view her mother as plain and not beautiful like her.
Oates then gives a description of Connie’s family. Her mother constantly compares Connie to her older sister June. Unlike Connie, June can do no wrong in her parent’s eyes. Their father is barely around and doesn’t give them much attention. As one reads about Connie’s family they come to understand her and why she is desperate to escape her ordinary life.
The way Connie escapes her family is to go out with her friends. When out with her friends Connie feels she can be her true self. The two sides to Connie become evident by the way she dresses and laughs differently when out with her friends than she does when with her family. When she does go out she tries to be a woman that boys like. On one of her excursions she meets a boy named Eddie. He offers her a way to escape reality and have fun. While out with him, she draws the attention of a boy who...
Cited: Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” The Story and Its Writer: An
Introduction to Short Fiction. 8th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s,
1999. 623-635. Print.
Weeks Jr., Lewis E. “Hemingway Hills:nSymbolism in ‘Hills Like White Elephants’.” Studies in
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