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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What are six quotes on the character type of the ignorant one in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," and what is the author's main argument about ignorance?

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Since Connie fails to recognize the imminent danger that Arnold Friend poses, she could be classified as the "ignorant" character type. There are several quotes that demonstrate her ignorance.

When Connie's parents leave for the barbeque, Connie feels a great sense of relief as she dries her hair in the...

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Since Connie fails to recognize the imminent danger that Arnold Friend poses, she could be classified as the "ignorant" character type. There are several quotes that demonstrate her ignorance.

When Connie's parents leave for the barbeque, Connie feels a great sense of relief as she dries her hair in the sun:

Connie sat with her eyes closed in the sun, dreaming and dazed with the warmth about her as if this were a kind of love, the caresses of love, and her mind slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before and how nice he had been, how sweet it always was ...

Connie imagines that all boys are harmless and full of adoration, the way Eddie had been the night before. She is ignorant that the world also contains men like Arnold Friend who are willing to exploit her.

When Arnold Friend initially pulls into her driveway, Connie is ignorant to the danger a stranger could pose to her safety:

It was a car she didn't know. It was an open jalopy, painted a bright gold that caught the sunlight opaquely. Her heart began to pound and her fingers snatched at her hair, checking it, and she whispered, "Christ. Christ," wondering how bad she looked.

Instead of attempting to hide from this uninvited stranger, Connie is immediately preoccupied with her appearance.

When Arnold Friend emerges from his car, his introductory comments to Connie are sinister, but she is seemingly ignorant to those implications:

"You're cute."

She pretended to fidget, chasing flies away from the door.

While an unknown man who makes "flattering" comments would raise warning flags for most women, Connie merely pretends to fidget in response. She should be leery of Arnold Friend's intentions, but she doesn't immediately insist that he leave.

Before she realizes that Arnold Friend has evil intentions toward her, Connie is ignorant to his plans and even considers taking a ride with this odd stranger:

"Where?"


"Where what?"


"Where're we going?"

Most women would absolutely refuse a ride with a random stranger who appeared, uninvited, in their driveway. Yet Connie is so self-absorbed that she doesn't consider that Arnold Friend could bring her any sort of harm.

I hope this helps as you consider other quotes in the short story that demonstrate Connie's ignorance. Look for places where she demonstrates a lack reasonable judgment despite compelling evidence that Arnold Friend should not be trusted.

The author's main statement on ignorance in this short story is that it can be deadly. Connie is so caught up in her own appearance and popularity that she fails to recognize real danger when it presents itself. She is trying so hard to not be like her sister June that she is easy prey for a man like Arnold Friend, who spots her at the drive-in and warns her that he's "gonna get [her]." Connie is ignorant to any sense of predatorial behavior because she is flattered by the attention of men.

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