Where Are You Going Where Have You Been Summary

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Varsha R. Yerram Professor Baker Studies in Fiction October 12, 2014 A Tainted Fantasy Overtaken by Morbid Reality In Joyce Carol Oates’ short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” there is a serious conflict between what is reality and fantasy. It is far too easy for individuals to create false fantasies and illusions regarding what they believe something to be. Connie, the main character, strives to behave like an adult through her attitude, demeanor, and appearance. This mature façade allows her to attract boys, and yet, she is ignorant of repercussions and the reality of the social setting she lives in. Connie is complacent living in a fantasy world, but soon she is ensnared by the conniving antagonist, Arnold Friend, and …show more content…

She is always concerned about her appearance and even tends to crane her neck to peer into mirrors and examines the way others look at her. Connie discovers that she can be a magnet towards male affection if she dresses and does her hair in a certain way, and this gives her a sense of control. At the same time she is discovering her sex appeal, Connie rebels against her parents. She tries to invent a new attitude and explore new territories. However, her wish to mature and have sex appeal puts Connie in a very unsafe position. Unknowingly, Connie is caught up in a fantasy world, which she naively believes to be her reality. The music she listens to gives her a chance to escape the mundane reality of her own life and allows her to maintain her fantasy and attitude. Music to Connie is like a narration of her dreams, troubles, and feelings. She enjoys sunbathing and listening to music while having all the time in the world to daydream about boys. Music provides her with a level of happiness, warmth, and romance that is far removed from her actual …show more content…

Arnold continues to make explicit remarks that become increasingly demanding. Connie’s fantasy perceptions of the world dissolve as she becomes frozen in a state of absolute terror from her present reality. She desperately wishes her family would come home soon to save her from this situation, and yet they are completely oblivious to her present state. In one last desperate attempt to salvage her fate, Connie tries to call her mother, but finds herself not able to use the telephone. Connie “cried out for her mother, she felt her breath start jerking back and forth in her lungs as if it was something Arnold Friend was stabbing her with again and again with no tenderness” (376). Arnold has a very firm grip over Connie’s state of mind in that moment. Connie is not able to think properly and is disheveled, possessed by Arnold’s domination. Connie is separated from Arnold by a screen door, and yet she still feels caged by him in her own home. The screen door is a thin barrier between peril and security, and between naïve fantasy and horrific reality. Eventually, Arnold convinces Connie to cross this barrier in order to protect her family. As she leaves her home, Oates explains that there is “so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it” (377). Hideous things will indeed occur to Connie after this. She is consumed by bright sunlight while

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