illustration of a young girl, Connie, reflected in the sunglasses of a man, Arnold Friend

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

by Joyce Carol Oates

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What does Arnold Friend represent in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Connie first sees Arnold Friend at the drive-in restaurant.  He seems smooth and cool, the epitome of the 'bad-boy image with his "shaggy black hair" and "convertible jalopy painted gold." 

Connie struggles with growing up; she feels trapped between her girlhood and the woman she wants to be.  Oates describes Connie as having two sides: "one for home and one for anywhere that was not home."  She dresses, walks, and even laughs differently.  

When Connie first encounters Arnold Friend, at the drive-in, she's not carrying herself as young-girl Connie; this Connie is the brazen, bright pink lipstick Connie, who deeply desires more than just the attention of Eddie, the 'boy-next-door.'

Connie often spends time:

"dreaming about the boys she 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 urgent insistent pounding of the music and the humid night air of July."

For Connie, Arnold becomes her elusive dream boy, the 'bad' one that her alter-ego continues to think about.  Friend represents Connie's desire to overcome her feelings of repression and to leave her childhood behind her. 

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