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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Describe Connie’s attitude during the exposition of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" and how this attitude contributes to the story’s conflict.

Connie's attitude during the exposition of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is best described as being proud, naive, and self-centered, and that allows Arnold Friend to take advantage of her.

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In a lot of ways, Connie is introduced to readers as what many people would consider a stereotypical teenager. She is annoyed by her parents. She can't stand being compared to her sibling. Connie thinks her mother is nothing but a nag. She would rather be out with her friends. She is constantly worried about how she looks, and she acts one way at home while acting completely different out in public with her friends. Connie is very much focused on herself. She is good looking, and she knows it. She has a great deal of pride about her looks, and Connie believes that the world exists for her to have fun in. Unfortunately, both of those things contribute to her being completely naive about the way she comes across to potentially dangerous people like Arnold Friend.

When Connie's family leaves her home alone, Connie is in a vulnerable position physically, emotionally, and mentally, and Friend knows it. He knows that he can approach Connie and nobody is around to stop him. He also knows that she is susceptible to the advances of the opposite sex. He saw it earlier in the story, and Connie is a flirty enough girl where she will at least be curious enough about Friend to allow him time to get physically close. Connie's naivety about the world, boys, and the image that she has portrayed doesn't alert her in time to the danger that is Friend. By the story's conclusion, she has learned the repercussions of her previous attitude. It's just unfortunate that her new knowledge doesn't coincide with a happy ending.

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