Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” tells the tale of a fifteen year old girl named Connie living in the early 1960’s who is stalked and ultimately abducted by a man who calls himself Arnold Friend. The short story is based on a true event, but has been analyzed by many literary scholars and allegedly possesses numerous underlying themes. Two of the most popular interpretations of the story are that the entire scenario is only dreamt by Connie and that the abductor is really the devil in disguise But the truth is that sometimes people really can just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Connie, a victim of terrifying circumstance will be forever changed by her interactions with Friend.
Oates drew the character of Connie very well - she possesses many of the qualities that teenaged children share. According to developmental psychologists, adolescents become highly critical of siblings, and peer relationships take precedence over familial ties during these years (Feldman, 455). These traits are apparent in Connie’s unflattering description of her older sister June, “…she was so plain and chunky…” (209) and the fact that Connie spends many nights out with friends, but refuses to attend an afternoon picnic with her family (211).
In addition, a teenager’s feelings of self worth are dependent upon the approval of others. Connie displays this as she practices “…checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right” (208). And of course there is also the explosion of hormones and corresponding sexual urges and fantasies. Oates makes all of these characteristics clear in her descriptions of Connie’s actions, thoughts and feelings.
Rubin attempts to convey the idea that Connie falls asleep in the sun and has a daydream in which her “…intense desire for total sexual experience runs headlong into her innate fear…” (58); and aspects of the story do seem dream like - for instance the way in which the boys in Connie’s daydreams...