What is significant about the first meeting between Connie and Arnold in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the meeting point between Arnold and Connie is significant for a couple of reasons.  When their eyes meet at the restaurant, Connie is "in her element" and feels completely good about being out on the town, seeing to be seen.  At the same time, she is rather disinterested with Eddy, a boy of her own age who is content spinning on the chairs at the diner.  Her boredom causes her to meet eyes with Arnold and then flirt with him from a distance.  Oates is insightful enough to construct Connie's meeting with Arnold as the result of boredom or a sense of disenchantment with her environment.  This is a significant part of Connie's character in that she does not feel comfortable in her setting at home, causing her to seek validation outside of it.  When she finds Arnold and is intrigued by him, it is because of a certain type of alienation in her own setting.  In this, the meeting between Connie and Arnold is only possible because of a division between Connie and her own setting.  The first meeting between them takes place from a distance, with Arnold waving his finger and saying, "Going to get you, baby."  In this, Connie sees harmless flirting and a situation in which she perceives that she is in control.  It is a point where Connie's own independence and freedom is going to sadly disappear, making their first moment of meeting the apex and decline of Connie's state of autonomous being in the world.

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