Identity In Joyce Carol Oates Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

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Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” leads the reader to believe both Connie and Arnold Friend battle with their identity. As Oates begins the story, she introduces Connie as “shallow and vapid” (Slimp); more obsessed with herself to notice the real world around her. Connie had a tendency to look “one way when she was at home and another way when she was away from home” (Oates 1), showing the reader she was two sided. Connie’s need to change her identity based on her location can very much stem from a lack of self-confidence. This can also be seen with Arnold Friend. According to Connie, Arnold appears to be around thirty years old at least, but when she asks Arnold how old he is, Arnold responds by saying, “Can’tcha see I’m your own age?” (Oates 5). Arnold is trying to fool Connie by dressing himself as a teenager; he is even “wearing a wig” (Oates 6) to appear younger. In this paper, I will argue how both Connie and Arnold suffer from ambiguous identity. Being only fifteen years…show more content…
Arnold shows up to Connie’s house wearing “tight jeans that showed his thighs and buttocks [,] greasy leather boots and [a] tight shirt” (Oates 5) to try and make himself appear as a teenage boy. Arnold was also wearing a “shaggy, shabby black hair” (Oates 2) wig to help him appear closer to Connie’s age. Connie believes Arnold is around thirty years old, which means this teenage alter ego of Arnold’s is his other identity, expect it seems like Arnold does not recognize the fact that he is older. It seems as if Arnold only knows how to live as a teenager, which is why he dresses as one, but he also acts much older than a typical teenager. Most teenagers would not be known to kidnap young girls, but creepy older men are. Arnold’s identities seen to clash with each other, which is what makes it known to the audience that Arnold has two different
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