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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Does Connie’s life sound like that of an average suburban/rural teenage girl in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

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Connie’s life sounds like that of an average teenager in many ways, but she seems to have more independence and less adult supervision than most girls her age. Connie is primarily interested in socializing with her friends. She takes pride in her appearance and is concerned about the impression she makes, especially on boys and young men.

Her mother seems overly critical of her while expressing more approval of her older sister, and her father seems relatively uninvolved with parenting. They seem to allow her considerable freedom to hang out in town, but it may be that they have become resigned to her tendency to defy their rules.

Connie seems to yearn for novelty or adventure and is not impressed by the conventional—and, to her, dull—life that her sister has chosen. Connie also seems naive in her acceptance of attention from strange men, which may indicate that her parents either have not warned her to be cautious or that she is deliberately disregarding their warnings.

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