The protagonist of Joyce Carol Oates's short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is a 15-year-old girl named Connie. Despite being the physically more attractive of her parents' two daughters--the older sister, June, is 24 and described as "plain and chunky"--Connie is treated harshly by her domineering mother, who apparently jumps at any opportunity to berate her teenage daughter for any perceived shortcoming. Connie's tendency toward vanity is derided by her mother with comments like, "Why don't you keep your room clean like your sister? How've you got your hair fixed--what the hell stinks? Hair spray? You don't see your sister using that junk." In short, Connie's life among her immediate relatives is less than perfect, and her self-esteem, to say nothing of her emotional isolation ("Connie wished her mother dead and she herself was dead and it was all over"), leaves her prey to the wrong sort of people. Such people do, in fact, materialize in the form of two men.
Connie goes off with the two men in the story's conclusion despite her misgivings about these two strangers who seem to know a great deal about her. Why would she do such a dangerous thing? Perhaps because Connie, like many teenage girls, suffers from low self-esteem, and the attention Arnold Friend lavishes on her, complimenting her looks and expressing an intense interest in her, plays to Connie's insecurities. It's an old and sad story, really, and in reality is directly linked to the problem of human trafficking within the United States. Connie goes with the strange men because her home life is bad and she is desperate for positive attention. One could logically speculate about her fate--kidnapped, raped, murdered--but there is a certain underlying truth to Oates's story, and it explains why this 15-year-old girl would leave with two strange males.