What do you think happens at the ending of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," which is left somewhat open?By Joyce Carol Oates.  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a few literary devices in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" that give clues to what Connie thinks her fate will be, which may be considered equivalent of what the author, Joyce Carol Oates, wants the reader to think Connie's fate will be. There is also one thing that Connie, as a young woman still, does not take into account that has the potential to materially alter her final ultimate fate.

Some of the literary devices that provide clues are the narratorial tone, mood, character reaction, and character development. The narratorial tone is that of oppression, despondent oppression. It foretells of upcoming, irreversible doom indicating that Connie will be abducted and mistreated by Arnold. Connie's reactions, which are part of the plot development as her movements rise to the climactic action, depict a young woman frozen to inner immobility who has abdicated through terror her volition to act on her own behalf from her own accord. This foretells that Connie will have no courage, no strength to resist or flee or fight.

The ominous mood of the story, established in part through the remarks Arnold and Ellie make and the desolation of the house Connie is in, corroborate the narratorial tone described above. The character development that unfolds in the midst of this tone and mood and through Connie's reactions are dramatic and sudden. She goes in a very short time from being a casual young woman who thinks of music and vanity with insignificant quarrels and conflicts of will with her parents to being a frightened, horrified, trapped, oppressed young woman who understands neither what she finds herself accosted by nor what it is in her power to do in response to the mentally violent horror confronting her. Connie has within a few moments dropped into a deep trauma response, which foretells of an inability to respond in any way other than to do as bidden. This is why Oates describes Connie's experience of watching herself act without feeling as if she is part of body or her actions.

Connie faces doom. However the one thing that Connie has overlooked, which may have been of no help to her in the moment even if she had remembered it, is that her parents will fight to find her and get her back. So even though Connie, alone in a house and up against violence of thought and manner that she has never encountered before, may have her immediate fate sealed for her, her ultimate fate may be kinder when her parents find and rescue her.

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