What really happened to Connie? Did she die?

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Although Joyce Carol Oates drew on journalistic reports about abductions, rapes, and murders, her short story is fiction. There is no way to determine what “really” happens to a fictional character. Oates effectively establishes an empathetic relationship with the character of Connie, which makes the reader see genuine human qualities in her and to care about what happens to her. The build up to her last actions suggests that she will not survive, but the reader might infer that her internal strength will get her through whatever comes next.

Just before Connie leaves, she apparently decides on an act of sacrifice. As Arnold threatens her family, the temporary immobility that had gripped her eases up. Acting out of pure emotion, from her heart, she puts their safety first. She understands that she must, as he says, “get away before her people come back.” From this point, she feels detached from her body and her identity: in her final actions, she is described as feeling as though...

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