Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Questions and Answers
by Joyce Carol Oates

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Why can this story be called a story of initiation? Explain. (A story of initiation is a story in which the protagonist has an experience very painful Explain the title, Where is Connie going,Where has she been? Where is Arnold going,Where has he been

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This is a story of initiation on many levels, but primarily sexual initiation. Connie starts dating boys and experimenting sexually but doesn't lose her virginity. When Arnold Friend comes to her house, after having spotted her at the shopping mall, he tells her is is her 'lover.' He also uses language that suggests he plans to seduce her and make love to her. She tries to get him to leave, but he refuses, saying her only choice is to come out and take a ride with him, or else he'll come in the house. The implication seems to be that his coming into the house is a veiled threat of rape, but that her willingly getting into his car and going with him suggests she will engage in consensual sex with him. We don't know the actual outcome, since the story ends with Connie coming down the steps and walking towards Friend's car.

As for the title, it seems to merely be a mysterious, cryptic statement, perhaps an imagined question that Connie asks of others, or imagines others asking of her. In particular, Connie's mother is very protective of her and it's very likely she would frequently ask Connie both of these questions, and that the answers to either would be intentionally cryptic or dishonest, since Connie would want to conceal her behavior from her mother. It's also a question that can be framed around Connie's excursion with Arnold: the question asked before she leaves, and after she returns, frame the initiatory sexual experience that Friend promises her.

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