In Joyce Carol Oates's 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been'

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Although some may argue that the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates, reveals that Connie’s materialistic ideals drove her actions which caused her ultimate demise, this position limits the importance of Connie’s repressed thoughts. Her repressed thoughts, identified through daydreams and inner dialogue, reveal her psychological efforts to protect herself from the imminent danger ahead. These thoughts form as she strives to achieve a differentiation of self from her older sister, yet her newfound identity becomes superficially based off how she believes she should behave around her peers. When Arnold Friend appears at her doorstep, even though Connie deploys her defense mechanisms of repression and denial, she remains vulnerable to Arnold because she does not acknowledge her repressed thoughts and only considers his superficial appearance. Once Connie’s repressed thoughts surface, her reality anxiety allows her to uncover Arnold Friend’s true intentions with her and shed light on Connie’s fatal flaw: her differentiation of self. Therefore, the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”, conveys the significant idea that basing one’s identity off of their peers can lead to superficiality, which creates vulnerability when in a dangerous predicament. Since Connie’s…show more content…
For instance, Connie states, “sometimes they did go shopping or to a movie, but sometimes they went across the highway, ducking fast across the busy road, to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out (665).” By hanging out at a restaurant surrounded by older kids, Connie attempts to fit in by molding her identity around how she believes she should act around them. Therefore, Connie’s differentiation of self is superficially based off of her observations of how her peers
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