What is a character analysis of Connie from the short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates?

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In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by author Joyce Carol Oates, Connie is the main character, a fifteen-year-old girl leading a relatively normal life. Connie appears superficial towards the beginning of the narrative, focused on many of the trivial problems that are associated with youth, from vanity to her infatuation with boys. Connie begins the narrative as a selfish and rebellious teenager who thinks little of the consequences of her actions on those around her, such as her family. She has a strong romantic side and is in love with the idea of love, even if she does not exhibit the emotional maturity required for a successful relationship.

Connie is often shown to be careless of the feelings of others, especially the boys who have demonstrated an interest in her. Once a boy makes it known that he likes her, she admits losing interest in him. Connie's friend, Arnold, puts these weaknesses to use in his attempt to manipulate her and gain control of her emotions. Arnold plays on Connie's superficiality, pulling her deeper into his world of lies, threats and menace through her own naivete. Arnold is able to exploit Connie's desire to be seen as attractive and to fit in, but he ultimately serves as the reason for her character's development. When Arnold threatens Connie's family, she goes along with his plans in order to protect them, demonstrating self-sacrificial characteristics she does not initially seem capable of.

Connie is a two-dimensional character on the surface, consumed with vain pursuits and concerns, but as the plot of “Where Are you Going, Where Have You Been?” deepens, so does her character. In summary, Connie is really a multi-dimensional character capable of alternating selfishness and selflessness, when the occasion calls for it.

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