Analysisof Connie’s Character
“Whereare you going where have you been” by Joyce Carol Oates is acaptivating story about Connie, a 15- year-old child desiring to beloved and appreciated by her family. Facing disapproval of herteenage actions at home, she starts to look for love elsewhere,spending time with boys by going out at night to meet them. It isduring her outings that she attracts the attention of Arnold Friendwho comes knocking at her home. Arnold pretends to love her, braggingthat he knows more about Connie together with her friends and heseems to be aware that her family is out for barbecue and would notbe coming back soon. What starts as an invitation for a ride withhim, turns ugly and scary for Connie when she discovers that Arnoldis not a teenager but an older man who wants to harm her. The purposeof this paper is to evaluate whether there is a transformation inConnie`s life from the beginning of the story as compared to the end.
Atthe start of the story, Connie is presented as a naive and troubledteenager who desires to look beautiful and spend more time looking ather appearance in the mirror as noted in this context “Gigglinghabit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors"(Oates 1). Sheis more concerned on appealing to the public and does not care whather mother says. She wonders whether her mother is jealous of herprettiness since she is always disapproving everything she does. “Hermotherhadbeenprettyonce…,butnowherlooksweregone”(Oates 1). Connie disliked the way her mom and her sisters keptpraising June, to her mom she was always doing something wrong, whichleads to Connie’s rebellious attitude, “Junedidthis,Junedidthat…Conniecouldn`tdoathing”(Oates1).Shefelt unloved and unappreciated as comparison to her sister, June whowas favored.
Conniefeels weak and powerless under her mother’s disapproval and wishesthat she was dead to prevent her persecutions. It is then ironicalthat at the end of the story when Arnold Friend is harassing her, shethinks of her mother. “I`m not going to see my mother again"(Oates 9). She craves for her protection and love to avoid theanguish she feels at the hands of an older man. She desires to fitboth at home and outside, hence, develops two personas at home, sheis moody and bored while with her friends she is presented as flirty,bright and brave. In the end, she has to merge the two personas so asto survive the harassment by Arnold Friend. She changes her behaviorat the end because she feels there is no need to hide because she isgoing to die anyway, “She thought for the first time in her life…but just a pounding, living thing inside this body that wasn`t reallyhers either” (Oates 10). Connie felt that she was going to die andwas worried that she could not even feel her own breath.
Sheis always daydreaming about boys and listening to the radio andwishing she had love and romance. Contrarily, at the end of thestory, when a man who claims to love her walks into her house, shebecomes scared and realizes that love is for older people and notteenagers like her. She starts to see that love requiresresponsibility which she is not ready to undertake. She is scared ofromance when Arnold Friend says that he is willing to have sex withher. Initially, she had longed to know about it, but is now afraid tohear someone talk openly on the issue, “She put her hands upagainst her ears as if she`d heard something terrible, something notmeant for her” (Oates 7). She hoped to keep away those words fromcorrupting her innocent mind.
Inthe beginning, Connie does not care for her mother and sister andsays that her father is always away and when he is around, he spendstime reading the newspaper. She portrays them as bad people who onlycare about themselves it is thus ironical that when Arnold threatensthem, she comes to defend them from harm. At the sight of danger,Connie is seen to change from a self-absorbing teenager to one who isself-conscious craving to protect her family. She knows that herfather is away from home, but uses him as a shield to scare Arnoldeven when he knows that he cannot come to her rescue. Her desire tofeel protected is revealed at this moment, even though Connie hasalways stood up for herself and now felt the need to be protected byan older person, "If my father comes and sees you—"(Oates 7). She hopes to scare him away due to the fear that he mightharm her.
Conniehas always challenged her mother`s authority, she is alwaysquestioning her and shows a rebellious attitude when she is asked todo something such as keeping her room clean and not using hair spray.She even goes further to showcase her reluctance to obey her motherwhen she is asked to attend the barbecue to which she adamantlyrefuses. Connie goes against her mother`s orders and prefers to sitat home and listen to music. However, in the end, she shows that shecan obey a voice of authority. Arnold orders her to place the phonedown and desist from calling the police, and Connie follows. It showsthat Connie revolves in the story and ends up realizing thatobedience is necessary if she hopes to be a responsible adult, "No,honey. Pick it up. Put it back right"(Oates 9). Connie feltobliged to obey the order from Arnold because she knew she had a lotto lose if she disobeyed. In conclusion, Connie is weak, naive andpowerless in the beginning, but at the end, she is reliable,responsible and obedient. She revolves around the story according tothe circumstances she faces, which goes to show that danger cansoften the stance of a person, which is typical in her case.
Oates,Joyce Carol, and Tobias Wolff. WhereAre You Going, Where Have You Been?Difusión, Centro de Investigación y Publicaciones de Idiomas, 2013.