Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates - to live out her life acting the part of...

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Katie Davidson Professor Nolan English II 10 September 2009 Who is Connie? Where Has She Been? Connie is susceptible to Arnold Friend’s spell-like manipulations because of her emotional unsteadiness and lack of self-assurance in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have Have You Been?” As a troubled teenager, Connie is in between girlhood and adulthood. She tries to establish her identity by pushing the boundaries her parents set for her and by seeking the approval from the opposite sex. Identifying personal worth with physical beauty, Connie belittles her older sister, wages war with her mother, and takes up “the habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right” (Oates 614). While this is usual behavior among teenagers, it ends up leaving Connie vulnerable to Arnold Friend’s advances. Connie, like many other girls her age, is content
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Unformatted text preview: to live out her life acting the part of the archetypal “pretty girl.” When Friend asks her, “What else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in?” this leaves Connie and the reader wondering the same question (Oates 624). Connie feels helpless looked inside her house and that the only rational thing left to do, in her opinion, is obey. The author compares Friend’s coaxes to incantations in the way that he manages to manipulate Connie so much that she surrenders her free will. The emptiness she feels when leaving the house is a clear testament to the lack of substance she had up until this moment in her short, vain life. When she leaves the house, she surrenders what little identity she has to Friend. The misplaced trust in her own self-actualization leads to Friend’s easy manipulation and Connie’s ultimate demise....
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