Where Are You Going Where Have You Been Scold Friend Character Analysis

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Connie, the main character in Joyce Carol Oates’ short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a young woman with palpably low self-esteem. This vulnerability allows Arnold Friend, the main antagonist of the story, to successfully attract and manipulate Connie. The story begins by highlighting Connie’s daily rituals of self-assurance (369). In order to feel secure with herself, even for a fleeting moment, Connie looks at herself in a mirror to make sure that she is satisfied with what she sees; this ritual is coupled with her tendency, when in public, to scan the area in order to make sure that no one is making any disgruntled looks about her appearance (369).
Connie’s home life does not bring any self-assurance that a healthy one would. Her mother scolds her and compares her unfavorably to her older sister June (369). Her father, instead of actively debasing her like her mother, simply ignores her (370). Nicolas Emler, a professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics, notes that the nature of how parents raise their children is a significant factor in whether those children will have low or high self-esteem. Giving
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When Connie and her friend are sitting at a restaurant, a boy named Eddie appears and converses with them (371). Connie, enthusiastic about the positive attention Eddie is giving her, agrees to go with him to his car (371). As they walk to his car, Connie catches multiple glimpses of Arnold Friend (371). She is attracted to him not by his looks alone, but by the positive attention that he is giving her. It is this positive attention that fills the void of self-worth that defines Connie as a character. Arnold Friend takes advantage of this attraction and vulnerability and utters the chilling declaration, “Gonna get you, baby,” as Connie and Eddie immerse themselves into the Saturday night darkness
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