In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," what makes Arnold's tactics appealing to Connie as the typical teenager?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arnold's tactics are appealing to a teen like Connie in a couple of ways.  The first is that he appeals to her sense of independence.  The fact that he first sees her out on a Saturday night at the local hang out is appealing to Connie.  It appeals to her because it represents a part of her reality that is defined against her domestic life.  Connie's characterization is one in which "Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home."  This is where Arnold strikes.  He continues this with the emergence of his car and his lifestyle as one that seeks to be "cool" or "hip."  Initially, this appeals to Connie because, once again, it is a part of being that is "not home."  For Connie, the allure of a life that is not "plain" or "square" is where Arnold strikes.  While Connie is not entirely certain of who she is, Arnold is fairly certain of who he is.  This is yet another tactic that Arnold uses in that he understands his agenda much better than Connie understands him or even herself.  It is in this where Oates is able to identify one of the fundamental challenges of modern adolescence in which freedom is quickly understood and misread because of its complexity and lack of totality.  Certainly, Arnold is able to take advantage of this to strike at Connie, representing the prototypical teen.

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