Does innocence lead people to danger? In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” Joyce Carol Oates identifies the tendencies of young people going through the process of adolescence. Teenagers assert independence, try to find their own individuality, insist that they are capable of making decisions by themselves, and think that they can already run their own lives. Actually, confusions and curiosities reign during this stage.
Hence, they attempt to do at-risk actions and try the unknown. In the book “Keep a Lid on It, Pandora!”, the mythic Greek maiden was advised to never peek inside the beautiful vessel, but she still opened it. Because of her curiosity, a box full of nasty items and terrible evils into the world flew out. One of the points of the story is that curiosity is not always in the negative. Susan Engle, author of “The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood” defines curiosity as “the urge to explain the unexpected.” Another thing, when teenagers are being corrected by their parents or guardians, they interpret the latter’s pieces of advice as destructive criticisms.
Thus, they tend to become rebellious. At times, peers become exceedingly important than their families at home because they think that the former understand them better. They prefer being with their friends and allot more time for them. The 15-year-old protagonist of the story, Connie, is in the midst of an adolescent rebellion. She has a long blonde hair and blue eyes. She is a typical teenager who intentionally and unintentionally ignores her family and even compares herself to her sister. Her mind is poisoned with the thought that she is less favored because her sister is better than her. To cope with this, she tries to appear matured, habitually hangs out with friends, and flirts with boys and overpowers them using her sexual appeal and good-looking appearance.
Despite her hidden hatred to her family, she remains confident. Perhaps the reason she is into music is because it helps her escape from the chaotic world she is in, and her daydreams feed her ideas of romance, love, and life in general. However, the personality she manifests outside is different from that the one she shows at home. Such behavior fascinates the attention of Arnold Friend, the antagonist. He seems obsessed with Connie that leads him in threatening her family and her life after the latter’s rejection of the former’s offer to come and have carnal knowledge with him. For the first time, Connie’s free will, confidence, and sense of control ostensibly obliterated altogether. She passively gives in because of fear. One of the vital parts of the story is when Connie’s mother is the one whom she calls and cries out for when she is being harassed. The story ended with her stepping out the door of their house, but it can be speculated that she was murdered by Friend.
A lot of researches confirmed that innocence, curiosity, and vanity, among others, are part of teenage life. CBS Interactive, Inc. reported that, “Most parents of teenagers don’t need a study to tell them that adolescents are prone to being reckless. But new research confirms that teenage brains are actually wired to engage in risky behaviors.” Nobody is born matured and wise; Everyone becomes innocent and dumb at least once. Nevertheless, it is not a justification not to be aware and responsible with our actions and behaviors because the interpretation of others cannot be ascertained and could be the cause of our defeat. Every person’s right and desires are not absolute; they are subject to limitations. And when that limitation exceeds, the result may become a regret. It is important to know to know the significance of a family especially of our parents.
The story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” also teaches readers that in the middle of menace, the best ones we can call on are our parents. However, since Connie’s parents are not present while the unfortunate event is happening, her cry for their help is only like catching the wind. To sum it up, nothing is absolute in this world, and nobody can survive alone. Being curious, volitional, confident, innocent, and vain are not bad as long as our minds are open to guidance and corrections. Does innocence lead people to danger? It depends on the actions being taken.