The short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates describes a young girl’s encounter with a mysterious man who tries to seduce her. It is generally viewed as a tale of sexual awakening and initiation into adulthood that can be traced back to ancient myths. Connie is the central character of the narrative who represents youth and innocence and undergoes a transformation when her world of dreams collapses, and she faces reality.
We will write a custom Research Paper on Connie’s Character in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates specifically for you
807 certified writers online
At the beginning of the story, Connie is described as a beautiful girl of 15 who is detached from reality and lives in the world of dreams. The most important feature about her appearance and behavior is that “everything about her had two sides in it, one for home, and other for anywhere that was not home” (Oates 2). She feels trapped in the house with her family that does not understand her and seizes every opportunity to enjoy life outside parental restraints. At home, she spends most of her time alone, dreaming about boys who are dissolved in her mind “into a single face that was not even a face but an idea” (Oates 3). She idealizes love and is never more than half-awake to reality. She is both sweet and spoilt, being sexually mature and attractive but too young and innocent to exploit her beauty.
In the middle of the story, a man comes to Connie’s house, whom she had earlier met on the street, and tries to seduce her. This is the turning moment for her character, and the author describes her reactions, thoughts, and feelings to illustrate the shock and transformation that Connie suffers. At first, she only notices things in him that attract her: his clothes, muscles, smile, laughter, and the sound of his voice. She is almost enamored with the stranger when she realizes that something is not right. She notices that he is not a kid and is probably in his thirties; he walks weirdly, and there are disturbing details in his appearance and behavior that alarm her. In her head, the initial sympathy turns into fear when he starts to insist on her going for a ride and having sex with him.
This is the moment of awakening when Connie realizes that the world is not as sunny as she imagined it to be in her dreams, and she faces reality. She feels that the stranger possesses the power that she can neither resist nor comprehend. He is not real; not in the way, the boys from her dreams are but in a fake and demonic way. Struggling to perceive the inevitability of sexual assault or even death, she finally unwillingly succumbs to his power.
Overall, Connie’s character undergoes a drastic transformation throughout the story. In the beginning, she is described as a sweet innocent girl who spends all her time dreaming about boys and is half-detached from the world around her. When she meets a mysterious and threatening stranger, she gradually starts to perceive reality as it is. At the end of the story, she turns into a victim confronted with the cruelty of the real world and struggling to comprehend it. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a story of initiation into adulthood that means losing one’s youth and innocence.
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” 1966. Web.