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 happens at the end of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"?

Quick answer:

Connie goes with Arnold Friend at the end of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" ends on a dark note. When spending time alone at home while her family is away at a picnic, Connie is approached by the mysterious Arnold Friend and Ellie Oscar in a car. They claim she was supposed to meet with them that day, but Connie does not remember this.

Connie runs inside, trying to resist Arnold. He does not follow her into the house, confident that she will return outside of her own will. She threatens to call the police and calls Arnold crazy. Arnold informs her that she will not call the police, and indeed, Connie finds herself unable to form a coherent sentence when she picks up the phone.

At the very end, Connie goes to Arnold's car. Deep down, she is aware that she will never return home or even see her family again, though what Arnold plans to do to her is not made explicit (though the possibility of rape is strong). This ending represents a sudden, violent lurch into the adult world, a state the adolescent Connie, for all her highly sexualized behavior in public and superficial affectations of maturity, is not at all emotionally prepared to face.

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