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

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Consequences are a part of everyday life. Every action or choice that is made will always affect one’s life down the road. Life is a never-ending cycle of cause and effect. In Joyce Carol Oates’s, “Where are you going, Where have you been?,” the theme is that every action and decision one makes in life will have a consequence, some may be good and some may be bad. This story is about a young, fifteen-year-old girl named Connie. She is arrogant and flaunts herself excessively. This eventually leads her into a heart-racing situation filled with terror and confusion which could have been easily avoided if she had acted modestly and acted her age. Through a careful examination of Connie and Arnold Friend, one clearly sees that there is a consequence…show more content…
“Connie fuses unexplored sexuality with the mystery music when, at home, she thinks about her encounters” which shows just how much she feeds off of the attention she gets from the people she associates with when she is not at home. When she is not physically getting the feeling of love by being with a boy, all she can do is think about it. Connie also cares an excessive amount about what people think of her. When she goes out with friends, she dresses revealing and acts in a seductive way towards men. This back fires on Connie when she and her friend go to a club that is not meant for people of their age. This causes men of older age to assume she is older and that overall, all she wants is sex, or in other words, to lose her innocence. When a man named Arnold Friend takes up her portrayed offer and shows up at her house, Connie realizes that she does not know what she is getting herself into. When Oates says “she couldn’t decide if she liked him or if he was just a jerk, and so she dawdled in the doorway and wouldn’t come down or go back inside” it proves that Connie does not necessarily care what type of guy she gets attention from because she does not force herself to ever completely shut him out, she just stays where she is at, unable to make up her mind . She is…show more content…
Arnold is easily fooled by the way Connie portrays herself. If one is in a club that is designed for people of a certain age, it should be assumed that everyone in there is of that age. When Arnold sees Connie walking out of the club, he believes Connie to be at least of that age. This is potentially what instigated his interest of Connie. Arnold eventually decides to take his interest in Connie to the next step. He shows up at her house and portrays himself as younger than his actual age by wearing makeup to cover up wrinkles and other blemishes that represent age. Arnold does this to help mask his age when he goes to Connie’s house and tries to get her to go out with him. When Arnold first pulls up to her house “Connie saw with shock that he wasn’t a kid either- he had a fair, hairless face, cheeks reddened slightly as if the veins grew too close to the surface of his skin, the face of a forty-year old baby.” Connie is now becoming conscious that Arnold may not be the man he is portraying to be. “Friend understands that music is sexual currency by pointing out his companion’s radio when he invites her for a ride. And he succeeds in breaking her conversational ice by discussing the merits of a commonly admired singer”, as if to act like they had common interests to make Connie feel more comfortable. For a moment this works but as Arnold begins to walk up to the house, it is obvious that he has been drinking. He stumbles up to

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