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What conflicts are present in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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bcnicks | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 11, 2011 at 2:30 AM via web

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What conflicts are present in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 11, 2011 at 2:55 AM (Answer #1)

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The most evident conflict in the Oates short story exists between Arnold Friend and Connie.  This does not start out as conflict.  Rather, it is one where her desire for attention and notoriety has been reciprocated by Arnold.  The conflict emerges when Arnold becomes so emboldened with his advance towards Connie.  His desire to have her come with him and, eventually, kidnapping her becomes the basis of the conflict.  He uses psychological and physical manipulation in his attempt.  From this, Connie recognizes that she does not want to go with him, but also grasps that she has little choice, as Arnold Friend threatens her family and leaves her with little choice.  Arnold demonstrates some slight conflict internally between his age and his desire to appear young, allowing him to get close enough to lure girls like Connie.  This conflict comes out in different points, such as when he speaks in different vernaculars of youth, but overall, he has little problem in being the person who stalks and victimizes Connie.

This development of Connie's character as one who cares for her family is one that is not present at the start of the story.  Connie is first shown to be in conflict with her parents and her sister.  Connie seems them as too traditional and unable to fully understand her own predicament and her need to be independent from them.  Connie's conflict with her sister is that she is too "plain," and unable to grasp the need to be "hip" and popular.  In the end, Connie's conflicts at the start of the story vastly contrast with her conflicts at the end of it.

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