“Where Are You Going Where Have You Been” By Joyce Carol Oates Character Analysis

589 words | 2 page(s)

At the beginning of Oates’s story, we get a picture of a very confident and comfortably sexual girl in the character of Connie. By the end of the story Connie has turned into a frightened little girl. Connie’s devolution represents the tug of war that takes place around adolescence as a person battles the need for childhood support and the desire to throw off such support and be independent.

In the opening paragraph is a lengthy description of Connie. It highlights her desire for physical beauty, “she had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right” (1). She not only wishes to look beautiful, but to look at least as good or better than other people. Noted in the description of her mother is that she is someone “who noticed everything and knew everything and who hadn’t much reason any longer to look at her own face” (1). Her mother is old enough to notice everything, but also old enough to not pay attention to her beauty any longer. Connie’s conceit shows through in her encounters with her mother. She describes herself as looking through her mother and seeing herself and seeing “she was pretty and that was everything” (1).

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"“Where Are You Going Where Have You Been” By Joyce Carol Oates Character Analysis".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

Connie believes she is grown up because she is allowed to go to the shopping plaza all day with friends without questions from her parents. She abuses her parents trust by leaving the shopping plaza and going to a drive in restaurant to meet up with boys. It is not expressly stated, but is assumed that this includes some kind of romantic or sexual activity. Connie struts around the restaurant just as confidently as she and her friends walk around the shopping plaza. Even her friends are not as assertive as Connie seems to be, going back to the plaza to see a movie like they had told their parents they were going to.

All of this changes though, when Arnold Friend appears in her driveway. At first glance, he appears to be what she should desire. He’s overtly interested in Connie but instead she is repelled. At the first sound of his appearance, Connie is “startled” (2). She runs to the window in apprehension, not excitement. Her fear only grows as her encounter with Friend progresses. She does not go straight outside, instead, “She went into the kitchen and approached the door slowly, then hung out the screen door, her bare toes curling down off the step” (2). She is straddling the line between childhood and adulthood. Inside of her home is where she has been so far, her childhood. But, outside is unknown, just as adulthood is to her. If she retreats inwards, she is still a child and not ready to accept adult worries. Should she leave the house, she is leaving childhood and safety behind. At first she chooses childhood. She runs inside, but is totally overwhelmed by fear and “she cried out, she cried for her mother” (8). It is this fear that causes her to leave with Friend, more so than her own choices.

So, Connie is forced into the first steps of adulthood, when all she wants is to be a child again. Throughout the story she flips back and forth between being a child and an adult. She is perfectly poised on the fine line of adolescence. The appearance of Friend shifts her back towards being a child rather than pushing her forward into adulthood.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now