The story that inspired me to write this short story was “Where are You Going, What Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates. Connie is the main character of this story. Connie is a teenager going through a time of change and confusion in her life. She is affected physically and emotionally. She dreams of being self-sufficient. She looks confident, but she is still inexperienced. She cannot help but gaze at her attractive looks. Connie is an individual who craves attention and is socially connected. Connie encounters Arnold in a very unpleasant situation towards the end. It caught Connie off guard. Connie was upset and dissatisfied. Connie was astonished at her new outlook on adult life and decided to forget it. Connie wanted the same innocence and youth she had as before. Connie was forced to become more aware and self-aware by this situation. Arnold started to notice her more and she began to be more reserved.
The story shows that life experiences can make us who we are. Teenagers’ vulnerability and desire to know more can make them easily influence. Teenagers should be provided with the guidance necessary to prevent them from falling prey to dangerous situations like Connie did. Connie is dealing with an inner conflict. Connie doesn’t know who she is and longs to become independent. She wants to be an adult and isn’t content being a teenage girl. She would like to be a female. Connie’s behaviour shows that she wants to be a woman. She is more reserved at home and doesn’t wear revealing clothes. She doesn’t want to be noticed. To get the men she wants, she dress provocatively when out with her friends. “Everything that she owned had two sides. One was home :…”. In this story, the setting is Connie’s suburban house. Connie was not given much guidance or attention by her family. Connie became promiscuous because of this. Connie was determined to get the attention that she wanted, and found it elsewhere. Arnold came to her home and made a profound impression on her. Her development was influenced by the restaurant. Eddie spent many hours at the restaurant with her, and Connie was able to see Arnold for the first-time. This story is about Connie and her relationships with them. Her mother has a confrontational relationship with Connie and doesn’t take Connie as seriously than Judy. Connie is constantly compared to Judy by her mother. Judy was more constructive than Connie. “Connie had her mother and sister praise her every day. June did that. She saved money and cleaned up the house. Connie couldn’t even do one thing because her mind was so full of rubbish daydreams. Connie’s older sister Judy was the preferred one. This led to a split between Connie & Judy. Connie is often absent from the family photos because of her father. He was always at work and rarely spoke with her. Even though her father is still a part of her daily life, she misses his interaction. She is not given much guidance by her parents. Each of these dysfunctional relationships has a negative impact on Connie’s behavior. Connie was intrigued and curious when Arnold pulled into her driveway. She wanted him to look good, so she was willing to accept her. “Her heart began beating and her hands snatched at her locks, looking for any flaws. Arnold attempted to force himself into her home and she noticed a shift in her attitude. “Connie stared blankly at him. He was causing her to feel dizzy and afraid. (Oates 133). Connie felt afraid and threatened. She ran to the door and locked it. (Oates, 134) This story ends with Arnold pushing his way into Connie’s house, despite Connie trying to stop it. Connie’s world was turned upside-down and she begins to feel helpless. She realized that she wasn’t imagining what adulthood would look like, but that she had experienced it firsthand. Arnold’s inappropriate behaviour towards Connie was a catalyst for her growth faster than any teenager would. He was very strong in his support of her. Connie came to realize that she was dependent on her parents and that their role in her lives was important. Connie discovered that their differences aside, Connie loved her mother ,…”. (Oates 136). “She thought, I won’t see my mother again.”
Readers will learn a lot about Connie’s life and the lessons she learned. Teenage years can be a pivotal time in the lives of teenagers. Healthy relationships between families are crucial for helping them make the right decisions. Connie is one of many mentally ill teenagers. Arnold has given Connie more insight into her desires and helped her to understand herself better. The ending of the story is not revealed, but I think Connie attempts to strengthen her relationships and trust with her parents, brother, and sister. Arnold’s past incident helped her become more self-aware and less likely to seek out attention. Connie will also be less likely to spend time with older men, and she will appreciate her own uniqueness. This story will appeal to all women, but especially teenage girls who can relate to it on many levels through their own experiences. Every teenage girl experiences some form of rebellion at one time or another.
Joyce Carol Oates. “Where are you going? Where have you been?” from The Norton Introduction To Literature Shorter 12th Edition, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, New York, 2017. pp.125-137.
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