where are you going, where have you been?

Essay by rdona001 October 2014

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"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

As I read "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" I sat on the floor in the corner of my room, completely alone in a four-bedroom suite on a Saturday night. I desperately wished that what happened to Connie would not happen to me that night. Few stories have terrified me as much as this one by Joyce Carol Oates. I feared I would soon encounter someone like Arnold Friend, and he would threaten my family if I refused his seductions to blindly follow him. Luckily for me, the story had several indications through descriptions of the characters and surroundings that Connie's situation was not completely realistic. There were several hints that all was but a dream, that Arnold Friend was a demonic figment of her imagination.

Connie is described as a typical teenager: giggly and self-centered.

She was fully aware of her beauty and thought nothing else mattered. She believed her mother was jealous of her looks to the point she would scold Connie for frequently checking her reflection. She acted one way at home and another among friends; she wore her clothes differently depending on where she was as well as walked and laughed differently away from her family. She was dishonest with her parents, choosing to go places other than where she had told her parents she would be. Connie was also consumed with "trashy daydreams" (422).

On the Sunday Connie's family left her at home while they went to her aunt's barbecue, Connie sat in the sun briefly while she remembered the events of the night before. She reminisced about the nice time she had with Eddie, the boy she left the drive-in restaurant with in favor of "sweet, gentle [things], the way...