Maybe She Does Care…
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates is a short story about a conceded teenage girl named Connie. Connie is a 15 year old girl that is beautiful and knows it. She is that type of girl that cannot walk by a mirror without breaking her neck to check herself out, making sure every single aspect of her is perfect. Along with her beauty and everything else she has well for her, she also has a family that cares about her. She doesn’t really care much for them though. Connie has an older sister, a father and mother. However, Connie’s mother is jealous of Connie’s beauty and always complains to Connie about how conceded she is, probably because she isn’t beautiful and young anymore. “Stop gawking at yourself, who are you? You think you’re so pretty?”(Page 427) Connie’s father seems to not play a big role in her life. He works, comes home to dinner, during dinner he would just eat his food and read the newspaper. After dinner he would usually go to bed, there isn’t really any conversation towards the family when he is around. The older sister is named June, she works at the school Connie attends. She isn’t as pretty as Connie, and she is pretty much a plain regular girl compared to her younger sister. However, even though Connie doesn’t show that she does appreciate and cares about her family, in reality and under pressure, she actually does care.
The major traits Connie displays throughout the short story is that she is mean, flip, conceded, and that she somewhat has a split personality. Her personality is split because she shows two different personalities towards people. She is very blunt and mean when it comes to her family.”…Connie’s mother kept picking at her until Connie wished her mother was dead…” (Page 428) For her friends on the other hand, she is very nice and charming, and she makes it seem like they’re her number one priority. One night, Connie was out with her friends, where all the cool high school kids would hang out, she met someone she thought she would never meet again or would even see again in life. His name was Arnold Friend.
The conflict Connie undergoes in the short story is when she unexpectedly meets her stalker Arnold Friend again, and his sidekick Ellie right on her property. Arnold Friend is Connie’s stalker. After Connie’s family leaves to a family cookout, Arnold Friend appears at Connie’s driveway. Arnold tries to convince Connie to take a ride with him and his friend Ellie. After a few minutes of small talk and convincing, Arnold starts to get extremely creepy by calling Connie “honey” and saying that he is Connie’s lover. “You’re my date. I’m your lover, honey.”(Page 435) Afterwards, Arnold Friend then threatens Connie to come take a ride with him or else her whole family would get hurt when they arrive back from the family cookout.
To resolve this problem, Connie knew that she had to take action and do what is right for her family to be safe. In the article Existential Allegory: Joyce Carol Oates ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ written by Marie Mitchell Olesen Urbanski, she states, “In the end, Oates makes it clear that Connie, in capitulating to Friend, is not simply surrendering her virginal innocence, but bowing to absolute forces which her youthful coquetry cannot direct absolute forces which she has no control.”(Urbanski 1) Connie left her family and home to a ride with Arnold Friend and his buddy Ellie to prevent any harm to her family. “She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were safe back somewhere in the other doorway, watching his