Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates' 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'

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Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" explores the consequences that a young girl, Connie, must deal with after garnering unwanted attention through her flirtatious behavior and attitude. Throughout the course of the story, Connie demonstrates that she puts her desires above those of others without regard for the reputation she creates for herself or for how her perception of others results in a negative perception of herself. In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," Connie creates a dual persona to satisfy her seemingly perpetual need for approval, attention, and feed into her self-absorption. In the story, Connie is constantly seeking attention and approval in a number of ways. The first way in which Connie seeks attention and approval is through her physical appearance. Oates describes Connie as having a "nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people's faces to make sure her own was all right" (Oates). This narcissistic tendency, and the reaction that she received from others including her mother, fed into Connie's self-absorption. Despite her mother's chastisement, "Connie would raise her eyebrows at these familiar old complaints and look right through her mother, into a shadowy vision of herself as she was right at that moment: she knew she was pretty and that was everything" (Oates). Furthermore, Connie's narcissistic focus leads her to criticize her sister, who appears to be the
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