Comparing And Contrasting Connie And Hulga

1249 words - 5 pages

There are many similarities between the short stories "Good Country People", by Flannery O'Connor, and "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", by Joyce Carol Oates, most notably their characters. Both stories contain a female protagonist and a male antagonist whose confrontations start out relatively normal and progress to more and more surreal and twisted endings. The main characters, Hulga and Connie, are shockingly similar, and yet strangely different. Connie is a 15-year-old wishing to be older and beautiful and Hulga is a bitter 32-year-old, wishing to be younger and ugly. These stories tell the tales of impressionable women who are tempted by the delights of men, only to prove to themselves in the end how naïve they really are.In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Connie started out as most teenage girls seemingly would - she wanted to be more daring, to appear older, and to experience more of the world. She sneaks away from childish pursuits to the teenage or adult world. Connie goes to drink and kiss boys rather than shop for school clothes: "Sometimes they did go shopping or to a movie, but sometimes they went across the highway, ducking fast across the busy road, to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out" (153). She talks of being beautiful as if it were her only good grace - beauty, to Connie, is the ultimate goal. She wants to be older, and more beautiful, and this is herdownfall. Her foolishness, and her being naïve is what appeals to Arnold Friend in the first place.Arnold Friend, a stranger, entices Connie early on in the story. She soon finds out that "He was much older-thirty, maybe more" (158) but instead of becoming extremely frightened the only thing that happens is "her heart began to pound faster" (158). We are not told if she is afraid or excited at the realization that Arnold is much older than she is. It is her yearning for the adult world, and the adult life, which, in the end, causes her downfall. She is suckered in by the convincing conman who uses his words to appeal to her weaknesses. She is tricked into being what Arnold wants her to be by his smooth words and his confidence. She is toyed with; played for the naïve fool she is, who is far too young for the world she wants to be a part of: "'No, your daddy is not coming and yes, you had to wash your hair and you washed it for me. It's nice and shining and all for me. I thank you sweetheart'" (161). Arnold seems to know exactly what to say to Connie and when to say it.It is not until the very end when Connie realizes that she has no other choice but to go with Arnold: "She put out her hand against the screen. She watched herself push the door slowly open...watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited" (164). Arnold had a "singsong way he talked, slightly mocking, kidding, but serious and a little melancholy" (158) which drew Connie to him. The way Arnold spoke to Connie and...

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