illustration of a young girl, Connie, reflected in the sunglasses of a man, Arnold Friend

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

by Joyce Carol Oates

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contrast the kind of life connie had at home with what she was looking for.

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Connie, the average fifteen year old, felt extremely critical about her home life.  She does not feel appreciated by her mother, and her older sister June is seemingly a paragon of virtue, washing, cooking, cleaning.  Connie's father works most of the time and is not overly social when he is home.  Does Connie have reason to be dissatisfied with her current situation?   Possibly. 

Connie is a dreamer, so focused on the possibilities of the future that she does not enjoy what she has at the moment, particularly her home life. Connie wants to be a grown woman, independent and sexy.  Her mother and June still treat her like a little girl. 

The reader sees into Connie's mind best as she lounges in the lawn chair outside:

"with her eyes closed in the sun, dreaming and dazed with the warmth about her as if this were a kind of love, the caresses of love and her mind slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before and how nice he had been, how sweet it always was... gentle, the way it was in movies and promised in songs." 

The bottom line is that Connie is looking for appreciation, understanding, and affection; not receiving any of the three at home, Connie goes looking for it elsewhere, in cheap tawdry dates with the boys she meets at the drive-in.  Connie doesn't just want to be in love, she wants to be in love in a movie, like everything in her life should be perfect; her dissatisfaction comes with the realization that it is far from perfection.

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