Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been Essay

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In her short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Joyce Carol Oates presents us with a well known maxim: children cannot wait to get older. Tired of her boring and powerless childhood, Connie, the main character, searches for cheap thrills she likens to adulthood. Thus, Connie’s surreal experience (Arnold Friend’s sudden and unwanted appearance in his car) represents a suppressed fear of the inevitable and unknown - growing up. Connie, a stereotypical fifteen year old girl, views her life and her family with dissatisfaction. Jealous around her twenty-four year old sister, June, despite June’s outward plainness, and tense around her irksome mother, Connie escapes to the mall with her friends. She and her clique of friends …show more content…
Eddie says something which alludes to an inevitable fact: “‘I just hate to leave her like that,’ Connie said earnestly, but the boy said that she wouldn’t be alone for long’” (2). All children grow up, some faster than others, and Connie seems determined to leave her childhood far behind her. Connie and Eddie spend three hours together, eating, drinking Coke, driving around, and “being alive”, but before leaving on their super-fun adventure, Connie passes a shaggy-headed boy next to a gold convertible: Connie slit her eyes at him and turned away, but she couldn’t help glancing back and there he was, still watching her. He wagged a finger and laughed and said, ‘Gonna get you, baby,’ and Connie turned away again without Eddie noticing anything (2).
The boy’s creepy actions, doubled with Connie’s unsettled reaction define her willingness to truly grow up and enter the forbidden, terrifying world of later life. She can always look away, but she will always look back, and it will always get her. After her secret night with Eddie, she comes home, lies about that night’s events, and goes to sleep. A few days later, Connie’s family goes to a barbecue and Connie finds herself home alone with nothing to do. After a while, an unfamiliar car comes up her long driveway. She runs in the house, but the driver honks the horn and she comes to the door. To her surprise, the shaggy-haired boy stands
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