Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Essay

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Essay

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In Joyce Carol Oates’s short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” a young teenager, Connie, becomes engrossed in the thoughts of a strange man, Arnold Friend. After being confronted by Arnold while out in public, he mysteriously shows up at her doorstep and offers her a ride in his car. As the conversation persists, Connie begins to recognize him as a threat but is too late and she is threatened with harm if she does not leave with Arnold. Throughout the story, Connie’s attitude to those around her, as well as herself, is a foreshadow for an event to take place where she is exposed to a danger. Connie’s lackluster awareness, enhanced narcissism, and exaggerated immaturity are portrayed through her appearance, actions, and gestures to the world around her.
The author uses explicit details to outline the appearance of Connie throughout the story that further express her desire to impress anyone who lays eyes on her. Connie was a dark blonde with long hair and took a unique way of dressing it by wearing “part of it pulled up on her head and puffed out and the rest of it she let fall down her back” (Oates 887). This step of showmanship, as opposed to wearing her hair like most others wear it, illustrates her flair for the dramatic and thirst for attention. Besides an extravagant hairstyle, Connie often wore a pullover jersey blouse, but it often “looked one way when she was at home and another way when she was away from home” (Oates 887). In other words, around her family she wants them to see her in an innocent light; outside of the house Connie wishes to attract the attention to the opposition of what her family would prefer. Also, while walking around the shopping center with her best friend, they would wear charm ...


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...nted as she looked to present herself to him, even though later he turned out to be insane.
Using her appearance, behavior, and mannerisms throughout the story, the author illustrates Connie’s traits of ignorance, arrogance, and childish innocence. Connie’s physical presentation is used to differentiate how she presents herself to those around her. Moreover, her actions also help in illustrating how different she is to her family as compared to her friends. Even in her subconscious gestures, Connie looked to impress anyone, while striving to act older than she actually was. Throughout the story, looks to fit in with those around her, thus causing her to build a phony personality to be like her friends and her peers. Her actions, gestures, and appearance are in direct correlation with how she feels she needs to act in order to get the attention she feels she deserves.

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