The short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates tells of a fifteen-year-old girl named Connie who deceives her parents by telling them that she is going to movies in a nearby town while actually going to the drive-in to pick up boys and...
The short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates tells of a fifteen-year-old girl named Connie who deceives her parents by telling them that she is going to movies in a nearby town while actually going to the drive-in to pick up boys and make out. At one of her drive-in incursions, she attracts the attention of a man who calls himself Arnold Friend. He drives his convertible to Connie's parent's house when he knows she is alone and invites her for a ride. When she refuses, he threatens her family, and eventually she feels compelled to go with him. The story is based on actual murders of high school girls that took place in Arizona in the mid-1960s.
The story was first published in 1966. In some ways, Connie represents a typical suburban American teenage girl from this time period. For instance, her father is a remote figure who works most of the time and comes home only to rest. Connie looks down on her mother and her sister. Her room is a mess and smells of hair spray. She visits shopping plazas, movie theaters, and drive-ins with her friends, and when she is out, she acts differently than when she is at home. When she and her friends go to the drive-in, she lies to her mother about where she has been. These are all typical of things that teenage girls might have done in the 1960s.
However, Oates emphasizes that Connie is beautiful, and this causes her sometimes to act atypically compared to other teenage girls. For example, she constantly glances into mirrors to be sure her face is all right. She compares her appearance favorably with her mother, who used to be beautiful. She flirts with boys and often allows them to pick her up. She believes that her mother secretly likes her better than her sister because she is prettier. These characteristics are not typical of all teenage girls, but only those who assess the reactions of others and realize that they are attractive.