Essay on Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Essay on Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Can a person get so subconsciously desperate that he/she, unknowingly, creates an imaginary figure to rescue them? While that may seem like an insane notion to ponder, it is all too real for Connie, a fifteen year old girl in “Where are you going, Where have you been?” by Joyce Oates. There are three separate writers whose interpretations of Oates’ story prove that the answer to that question, in Connie’s case is yes. Arnold Friend is a figment of Connie’s imagination created by her desperate need for a reality check.
Within Connie’s mind there is a split between her reality and her fantasy, and she seems to be trapped within the fantasy realm. Being stuck in a fantasy at all times cause Connie to subconsciously create a means to her escape, Arnold Friend. Arnold is portrayed as knowing details about Connie’s family that he could not have know, as it was his first time ever speaking with Connie. The amount of details Arnold knew about Connie supports the theory that he was made up by Connie, as some of the things he knew were only known by Connie herself. In the short story Connie mentions how Arnold “Had come from nowhere before that and belonged nowhere” (Oates 206) and he “was only half real” (Oates 206), Connie herself even mentions how Arnold seems made up and he didn’t quite fit into either of her worlds. Arnold’s presence cause Connie to make a realization about how riskily she’d been living her life up until that moment and he gives her the push she needs to enter back into the real world. At the end of the story it says “She watched herself push the door slowly open...watching this body and this long head of hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited.”(Oates 210) as Connie is leaving with Arnold it seems...


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...nce to further prove this writer’s theory. Wegs furthers the theory that Arnold is an imaginary figure by comparing him to Satan, who is a mythological creature believed to be the ruler of all evil in the world. By comparing him to the ruler of all evil, Wegs is proving that Arnold was imagined by Connie as a manifestation of her fear of the adult world. Similar to the evil Satan is said to cause, Arnold in Connie’s mind represents the evil present in becoming an adult.
With these three interpretations it is clear that Arnold Friend is a imaginary being created subconsciously by Connie in her desperate reach for reality. Arnold provided Connie with the realization of what her risky actions could lead her to if she did not change. Also Arnold caused Connie to see what she had become, and recognize that she needed to drop the facade and face her true fear of adulthood.

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