Comparing and Contrasting Connie and Hulga

Essay by tine981College, UndergraduateA+, April 2005

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There are many similarities between the short stories "Good Country People", by Flannery O'Connor, and "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", by Joyce Carol Oates, most notably their characters. Both stories contain a female protagonist and a male antagonist whose confrontations start out relatively normal and progress to more and more surreal and twisted endings. The main characters, Hulga and Connie, are shockingly similar, and yet strangely different. Connie is a 15-year-old wishing to be older and beautiful and Hulga is a bitter 32-year-old, wishing to be younger and ugly. These stories tell the tales of impressionable women who are tempted by the delights of men, only to prove to themselves in the end how naïve they really are.

In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Connie started out as most teenage girls seemingly would - she wanted to be more daring, to appear older, and to experience more of the world.

She sneaks away from childish pursuits to the teenage or adult world. Connie goes to drink and kiss boys rather than shop for school clothes: "Sometimes they did go shopping or to a movie, but sometimes they went across the highway, ducking fast across the busy road, to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out" (153). She talks of being beautiful as if it were her only good grace - beauty, to Connie, is the ultimate goal. She wants to be older, and more beautiful, and this is her

downfall. Her foolishness, and her being naïve is what appeals to Arnold Friend in the first place.

Arnold Friend, a stranger, entices Connie early on in the story. She soon finds out that "He was much older-thirty, maybe more" (158) but instead of becoming extremely frightened the only...