"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been"- Oates Essay

577 WordsFeb 29, 20123 Pages
In her short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”, Joyce Carol Oates emphasizes the theme that appearances are not everything through the development and fate of her characters Connie and Arnold Friend. Connie prides herself on her beauty; “she [knows] she [is] pretty and that [is] everything” (427). She believes that her plain, simple family is inferior to her; she views her sister Jane as “plain and chunky and steady” (427) and she does not pay any attention to her mother, who is “simple and kindly enough to believe” (429) anything Connie tells her, be it the truth or a lie— “everything about [Connie has] two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that [is] not home” (428). When she is away from home, Connie projects a mature, lascivious persona that is trapped inside her, waiting to be set free, but the only place Connie can satisfy her desires is when she goes to the shopping plaza with her best friend. At home, Connie’s mind is “filled with trashy daydream” (428), always “thinking, [and] dreaming, about the boys she met” (429). When she gives into the temptation, she feels the “pure pleasure of being alive” (249). Arnold Friend easily tempts Connie. Connie is intrigued by Arnold the first time she sees him, as evident by her looking back at him after making eye contact. In addition, when she is daydreaming about the previous night, the thoughts of “all the boys [are] dissolved into a single face” (429)—Arnold Friend. Ironically, despite his last name, Arnold is no friend at all. Arnold Friend is the devil in disguise. The first observation Connie makes when Arnold drives up to her house is about his “hair that looked crazy as a wig” (430). His boots “must have been stuffed with something so that he would seem taller” (436) and one of them was at a “strange angle, as if his foot [was not] in it” (436). From the minute he drives up to her
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