Joyce Carol Oates began her short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” with a 15 year old girl named Connie whose mother that had always compared her to her sister June. This gave the reader a chance to establish a connection with Connie. Since almost every teenager has felt a comparison to another sibling at least once in their life, unless they were an only child, but then they were probably compared to family friend’s child. Her mother would say things like “Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister?” or “How’ve you got your hair fixed – what the hell stinks? Hair spray? You don’t see your sister using that junk” (Oates, 1). Perhaps this is the reason that Connie has created a fantasy against the reality of the life she lives where “everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home” (Oates, 1). However, this is challenged when Connie meets the strange figure of Arnold Friend, who ultimately ends up changing Connie.
It is stated within this short story that her father “was away at work most of the time and when he came home we wanted supper and he read the newspaper at supper and after supper he went to bed” (Oates, 1). This has only contributed to Connie’s unhappiness at home and has most likely impacted her need to find attention from men. For Connie, the escape from home would be going to a shopping plaza with her best girl friend to watch a movie or wander through stores. Some instances, they would cross the highway to a diner and during one particular visit, it is when she met Eddie and the “boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold” (Oates, 2). However, the happiness Connie felt had nothing to do with Eddie or with the diner, but the music instead. The one thing that has been constant in her unhappy home life and the life outside that is music, whether it is the music she thinks of when she is daydreaming or the music playing at the places she goes with her friends. It can be said that everything is a fantasy, but the only thing that is reality is the music.
This message of a fantasy world is mainly depicted with her actions and less significantly with how her clothes are worn at places outside of home. That same idea where her personality had two sides, one for home and one for everywhere else except for home, can is also applied to her clothes and her actions. Like the pull-over jersey or the way she walked and laughed. In this fantasy world, it is apparent that Connie likes to think of herself more of an adult. But reading through the thought process and actions of Connie, “we experience her as a somewhat childish and silly narcissistic adolescent” (Rubin, 58). Whether she wanted attention from other male figures or positive attention from her family, she received the attention she craved from Arnold Friend, which was the shaggy haired boy back at the diner and “no Prince Charming” (Gillis, 68).
After the incident with meeting Arnold...