Compare and contrast Connie of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" with Queenie of "A & P."Joyce Carol Oates - "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" John Updike - "A & P"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While there is not as much character development of Queenie in John Updike's "A & P" as there is of Connie of Joyce Carol Oates's "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," both girls represent rather superficial teen-aged girls who become aware of their new sexuality.  Their behavior also exhibits a certain rebelliousness and egotism. In Oates's story, Connie is not concerned with the feelings of the boys who admire her, only perceiving them as vehicles for her "trashy daydreams."  With her friends, she enjoys ignoring the boys they encounter.  At home, in her self-centeredness, Connie dreams about the boys she has met

But all the boys fell back and dissolved into a single face that was not even a face, but an idea, a feeling, mixed up with the insistent pounding of the music and the humid night air of July.

Likewise, Updike's Queenie, in her swimsuit with the straps that have fallen off her shoulders, attracts the attention of Sammy who is smitten by them.  Sammy narrates that she takes no notice of him--"Not this queen."  When she lifts a folded dollar bill "out of the hollow at the center of her nubbled pink top," Sammy, nevertheless, thinks "that was so cute." 

When scolded for their lack of attire by Lengel, the store's manager, Queenie retorts that they "are decent."  Like Connie, Queenie ignores the disapproval of adults and operates in her own world.  She also ignores Sammy's chivalrous act of quitting his job because he feels that Lengel has insulted the girls with whom he is smitten, feeling "scrunchy inside."  In Connie's encounter with Arnold Friend, of course, the circumstances are completely different; Arnold turns Connie into the one who is manipulated--even terrorized.  She, then, is the one who feels "a wave of dizziness rise in her," and the consequences of her actions are far more dangerous than those of Sammy.

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