What is the significance and possible symbolism in the title of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title overtly applies to the frequent questions which Connie's mother plagues her with. In response to these questions, Connie lies and is surprised at the apparent "simplicity" of her mother and the way that she is so ready to believe and trust Connie and what she says. Not only does the title focus us in therefore on an experience that is one that all adolescents can relate to, it also emphasises the strange, nebulous, in-between phase of adolescence that Connie is going through. The main theme of the story is about how adolescence is such a turbulent time that can leave adolescents particularly vulnerable to psychological manipulation such as that administered on Connie by Arnold Friend. Thus the title also calls to mind this strange, in-between state, by focusing on the way that adolescence is in many ways a state of limbo between your past, where you have been, and your future, where you are going. By developing the character of Connie at this stage of her life, the author depicts a character that is strangely vunlnerable and unsure of her own identity, as is reinforced by such comments as:

She wore a pullover jersey top that looked one way when she was at home and another way when she was away from home. Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home...

Such passages, along with the title, help to reinforce the vulnerability of Connie as a character.

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