In the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” Joyce Carol Oats uses characterization including methods such as symbolism and allusions to develop her characters, and thus establish her theme of the cross roads Connie faces in her transition from the innocence of her adolescence to the impurity of adulthood facilitated by the antagonist, Arnold Friend.
From the beginning of the story, the reader sees Connie has a strong desire to make her early transition into adulthood. Although she in only 15, she acts like an adult as “everything about her had two sides to it, one for home, and one for anywhere that was not home” (Oats, pg 510). She frequently tests her limits by making her parents believe she was with her friend shopping or seeing a movie, however “sometimes they went across the highway, ducking fast across the busy road, to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out” (Oats, pg 510). There she met boys and eventually went out to their cars with them to engage in sexual activities. This shows how Connie, though only 15, wanted to experience adulthood behaviors. Oates also symbolically portrays the anxiety Connie feels in choosing between adolescence and adulthood by depicting her standing at the doorway when Arnold Friend arrives at her house. Connie, is nervous and reluctant to leave her home and her innocence, however she is curious and eager as she stands at the “doorway” to adulthood and the loss of innocence. Schulz and Rockwood say “Connie is ambivalent: she is both fascinated and frightened.. She is uncertain how to bridge the chasm between “home” and “anywhere that was not home,” she stands – or wavers – at the boundary between childhood and adulthood, hesitant and yet anxious to enter the new world of experience which is opening before her (Schulz and Rockwood pg 52).”
Connie’s false sense of adulthood is also made evident by her desire to always be in control and her disregard for the consequences of her premature actions....
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