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Demise of Connie in ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’: Character Analysis

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As this is the most popular short story of Joyce Carol Oates, ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’, is the story of a teenage girl who is facing some issues in her life. This story has highlighted the thought process and actions of a teenager woman and the Connie character which can show that how a teenage girl face so many changes in her character while trying to switch from adulthood to womanhood. The story further explains about Arnold Friend who has seduce the young woman and in that time all the characteristics which young woman possess changed to a terrible scene. At the end, she can see herself crossing the threshold of spiritual boundary that is created for woman. To the demise of Connie, there are many factors which acted together and turn out to be horrible. This essay would explain that how Connie’s self-obsession, sense of authority and the world outside lead towards her demise in the end of the short story.

The main character of the narrative is Connie, who is obsessed with her beauty and her obsession is a factor which contributed to her demise. In the narrative, it is explained that he was obsessed with her beauty and this is not atypical thing. She has observed the things from his surroundings; her mother has always preferred her over her sister which is less beautiful. She is the teenager girl so she has the main understand that attractiveness is everything which is required by woman. In the story, Oates has not emphasized on the character and the inborn incentives of Arnold Friend rather he has described the character of Connie throughout the story. She has the habit of checking herself every minute in the mirror and she always admired her beauty. Connie has the golden hairs which defines her beauty. “She had a quick nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirror or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right” (Oates, 1). She was very much concerned about her own beauty and she consider herself as superior of all as she is beautiful. The main reason for her self-obsession is the time and place in which she is living (Oates).

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There is another factor in the narrative which is lack of authority and this lack allows Connie to begin her will and independence. She is in the teenage group and at that time of age parents always act as guidance for children and help them to define their limits and boundaries but unfortunately her parent could not do so. Her father rarely comes and acknowledges his wife and daughters, her mother spends her whole day while gossiping. She has the defect of dual personality; she is the entirely different person at home and changed to a new person which she hangs out with her friends. She has her own world where she goes on parties with boys and her parents don’t have any idea about it. “But sometimes they went across the highway, ducking fast across the busy road, to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out” (Oates, 1). She has developed the nature to be admired by the other people, she remains in daydreaming all the day. She was making the tentative moves towards womanhood by developing sexuality. She likes to hang up with the older boys and her parents has no idea about that, she always lies to them. She has developed the greater sense of independence so he remains at home without her mother permission (Oates).

One more contributing factor towards the demise of Connie is that the wide spread culture of society, where woman is considered as an attractive show piece for man which he can take advantage from. Women are considered as the object of beauty and this is the main thing which causes them to fall the victim of harassment. When Arnold Friend has admired her beauty and her hairs, she was delighted that he has interested in her, she thought that she will tackle him like she has tackled the other boys. But he is the predatory man who has considered woman as piece of beauty. This is the world in which these predator men are present everywhere who consider woman as the object of attractive and beauty that is used for male consumption. When she got to know about her evil will she got threated. “She puts her hands up against her ears as if she had heard something terrible, something not meant for her” (Oates, 6). This was the time when she feels threated and just wants to escape from all these. At that time her independent nature and obsession of beauty all go to vain and she wants to keep herself away from that male who is continuously knocking at her door and wants to harass her (Oates).

This is a story which has the multiple interpretations, at the end of story it is explained that Connie watches herself opening the door and she is just crossing the spiritual threshold. The narrator has explained that she was just shattered by the encounter with Arnold Friend. She imagines herself going into the new world and there is some unearth transition. This story has highlighted the negligence she has to face as a teenage child, her parents has not taken care of herself. She wants to become indecent and she has gained that sense of authority when her parent doesn’t keep a check on her. Her parents are not involved in her life which causes her to have a split personality. She was a lively person when she was with her friends while when she was with her mother and sister, she is always conflicting with them. The story has explained different themes with different type of scenes and unveiled many bitter realities of world. The narrator has leaded its ultimate focus on the treatment of woman in the society and how a teenage girl see herself in this society.

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Demise of Connie in ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’: Character Analysis. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
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