Where is "cliche busting" in the story, Where are You Going Where Have You Been?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think one way an cliches are "busted" or challenged is in the horrifying nature of the story.  Connie might start off as the "cliched" teen.  She is concerned about her looks, alienates her parents, lives for being seen in social settings, and embraces her own independence.  However, once Arnold approaches her home and the confrontation between them begins, I don't see it as cliche.  The standard cliches of the "predator and prey" are busted "wide open" when Connie recognizes her role as sacrifice for her family.  When she recognizes that she will never see her mom again or sleep in her own bed again, there is an authenticity that is far from cliche.  At the same time, when she fully understands what Arnold will do and how she wishes life could go back to a different time, I think it challenges the cliche.  Perhaps, the overused expression is that the victim punishes the predator or that the predator is punished.  It is a comforting cliche because it serves to reestablish justice and order in the world.  The ending of the story where Connie goes with Arnold into a realm she no longer recognizes is something that is far from cliche.  This is why it is uncomfortable because the reader, in a sense, is like Connie in being taken to a realm that is unrecognizable.

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