What is the prevalent theme in "Where are you going, Where have you been"?, and what does it say about the relationship between evil and youth

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think there may be a number of themes present in this story, but I think the most persistent one is the loss of innocence. Connie is a teenage girl whose beauty is a source of admiration for many. In the film version of the story, she is portrayed by Laura Dern, whose pale blonde hair and blue eyes lend a visual sense of innocence and purity to the character. Connie is susceptible to flattery from boys and obviously easily led into sexual situations. She seems to revel in her discovery of the power of her sexuality and the impact her appearance has on others. The thrill derived from this sense of empowerment is suggested as the key impulse that corrupts Connie and propels her forward into a world of sexual sophistication and knowing. But her reaction to the advances of Arnold Friend, a mix of repulsion, fear, attraction and curiosity, demonstrate that she is not completely comfortable with the fast track to maturity she has chosen. Whether Arnold Friend is "evil" or not is left somewhat ambiguous; but Connie's inability to resist his lure is testament to her growing inability to ground her actions in accepted modes of morality. She wishes to strike out on her own as an adult but is, sadly, still naive and childlike, and ignorant of the pitfalls that may await her.


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