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

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Write a character analysis of Connie in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates.

Fifteen-year-old Connie is a stereotypical teenage girl: rebellious, superficial, and vain, she often lies to her mother about where she's going and where she's been. She enjoys hanging out with her friends at the mall or at a local drive-in restaurant, where she catches the eye of "Arnold Friend," an older man almost certainly using an assumed name. Arnold frightens Connie, causing her to call out for her mother. In these final moments, it becomes clear how much Connie actually loves her family. She sacrifices herself so that they won't get hurt. Even though Connie is a superficial character, she does make a noble gesture at the end of the story.

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In this story, Connie transforms from a girl who seeks to validate her own superficial ideas to one who is willing to sacrifice herself for her family.

As the story opens, Connie bases her self-worth on her looks: "She knew she was pretty and that was everything." She endures comments from her mother, convinced that the scorn she receives is because her mother has lost her own good looks and thus feels the need to belittle Connie's. Connie is deceptive in order to obtain what she desires—some unchaperoned time with boys. She acts as part of a collective, making decisions with the group of girls who sneak circumvent their parents' rules with her:

One night in midsummer they ran across, breathless with daring, and right away someone leaned out a car window and invited them over, but it was just a boy from high school they didn't like. It made them feel good to be able to ignore him.

They didn't like the boy and thus they ignore him. Connie seems incapable of independent thought.

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