Thesis statement: the issues underlying the behavior and the social viability of the stories protagonist is primarily evident in her relation and attitude towards the men.
Relationships and Psychology
“Where are you going, where have you been?” is an anthologized short story by Joyce Carol Oates. The short story by Joyce Carol Oates is a modern classic. That is because it draws some different mythology, music and contemporary culture to build a stable ground for the development of her content. The story who’s main character is Connie, a beautiful and self-absorbed 15-year-old girl mostly focuses on some social issues such as sexual adulthood, family relations, friendship and social lives of different personalities among others.
The story which was first published in 1966 talks about this particular young girl at the edge of adulthood Connie while disposing of her general sense of innocence. Although the story the is both entertaining and educative, it fails to give readers a definitive ending as it engages their imagination to determine what further happens to the lives and progress of its characters. The story which is established by fiction seeks to build and engage the reader’s sense of creativity. By doing this, author Joyce Carol Oates openly enables her targeted audience to develop a clear and transparent perspective and understanding of the various issues such as social and cultural issues. Therefore the purpose of the essay is to provide a clear and detailed analysis of the short story “Where are you going, where have you been?” by Joyce Carol Oates. In a bid to achieve this, the paper will start by discussing Connie’s relationship with her family and the impact it has had on her life. It will further proceed to identify the various abilities she uses to control her desires and general well-being as a whole. Finally, the essay will talk about how Connie relates with strangers throughout her teenage and young adulthood.
The story begins with an introduction of the main protagonist Connie and her teenage manners and a general focus on her beauty as well as her family and those around her. In establishing the different ways through which Connie’s behavior and attitude have affected the entire plot of the story, the writer openly places the main character in a compromising position where her actions are continually observed by both her family and those around her. That is mainly because teenage life is perceived as an experimental stage with which she is faced with a lot of peer pressure by those around her. Through this, it is evident that the social and cultural influences she received from her friends made her regularly dump guys. Further, the random and participatory activities she undertook with boys during this experimental stage in her life openly warranted a lot of observation from her parents and the elderly population as a whole. Despite showing the frailty of her youth and the prevailing attitudes of a typical teenager, herself conscious of her beauty enables her to draw a lot of particular attention from boys within the society. By centering activities on her to let herself look good, Connie understands that she can use what she has to get what she wants. That is, she uses her beauty to receive special favors from boys. It is mainly because of this that a sense of conflict and confusion is established within the text.
The inevitable conflict created by the protagonist’s sense of beauty has limited her ability to achieve her socially set goals and objectives comfortably. For example, the writer provides a detailed confrontation between the youthful society and the older generation. That is because Connie is seen to be overpowered by her male friend Arnold. Although the story depicts that social violence, brutality can be easily avoided; Connie allows herself to get into a compromising situation with men. That is, by using her beauty to capture the attention of people, Connie unconsciously attracts the interest of men with ill intentions. For example, while she is left home alone, two men pull up in front of her house immediately her parents left for a barbecue at her aunt’s house and one of the men she recognized as Arnold Friend approached her using the pretense of being 18 years old to lure her. Using his physical strength, Arnold Friend violently subjects Connie into unwillingly accepting his wishes. That is, after realizing the reluctance in Connie’s movement, Friend becomes more forceful and threatening towards compelling her to undertake his general needs and demands. Given this, it can be argued that while her parents view her as an ordinary teenager, her male counterparts such as Arnold Friend see her as a mature woman who is ready for a relationship. That is mainly through the hard work she undertakes on her appearance in a bid to socially present herself as a mature woman with a vast experience with men. It is because of this that Connie is seen to abandon her childlike fantasy with the aim of thinking critically as she automatically recognizes Arnold Fried as a child molester.
Further, the attractive adult persona she has created for herself through her character, type of clothing and hairstyle only goes show that her life has become but a stage performance within the society. Other than the excess attention Connie seeks from men, she leads a normal teenage life full of daydream, anticipation, ignorance, and stubbornness. By this, it can be noted that Connie has a dual persona. That is the one who impersonates an attractive adult mature woman and the other who is a typical teenager with a mind filled with trashy daydreams. Therefore, depending on the role, she takes on, Connie can act accordingly to get social approval from her different publics. For example, when she takes up the persona of a real teenager she becomes stubborn and listens not to the voice of reason from her mother, but instead, focuses on her fantasies due to the need to find idols that she can comfortably identify. It is during this time that she imagines herself spending the nights at the shopping plaza while combing through the store, listening to music and meeting boys. Importantly, it should be noted that the idols Connie seek to identify within her fantasy are predominantly embodied within the music industry.
Consequently, her admiration for her twenty-four-year-old sister June encourages her to live a normal middle-class life. Despite having to enjoy her fantasies, it is evident that it contradicts the value and belief system of her parents. That is because she develops an increased thought on sexual love as projected by the genre of music she listens. Although Connie concentrates on taking advantage of her beauty to attract men to herself, she bares no apparent self-concept in identifying herself within the social standing.
It is because of this that she begins to confuse her ability to command the attention from boys with her desire to encourage them into pursuing a sexual relation with her. Her continued need for attention from men makes her the black sheep of the family. That is, her selfish and self-centered character or behavior limits her ability to get the attention she desires from her family. Instead of her, her sister June who works as a secretary in the school she attends attains all the attention from her parents. That is because she is seen to represent and standby all the family values.
That is, she is always pure and steady in all that she does, thereby attracting constant praises from their mother. As a result of this, Connie becomes insecure and desperate for love and attention from her parents, thus forcing her to look for attention from her social circle to help fill the gap left by her parents. By this, it should be noted that Connie’s increased desperation for attention from men goes to show a relationship that occurs between a decision and the consequences of an individual’s actions. For example, her greater need for social attention made Connie get involve with a stranger, Arnold Friend in a bid to fill the gap left by her family. Because of this, she allowed the stranger to lure her into his car using force and smooth talk, thereby clouding her sense of reason and judgment.