Connies Escape From Life
Joyce Carol Oates story, Where are you going, where have you been? portrays Connie, a typical teenager struggling through common adolescent problems. One day, she is confronted by a man named Arnold Friend. Whether fantasy or reality, Friend provides an escape for Connie from her family relationships, her guilt to be loyal to her family, and sexual repression.
The Author paints the picture of a strained family relationship. Connies mother would constantly compare Connie to her sister. She would say things like, why dont you keep your room clean like your sister? (189), causing Connie to have hard feelings toward her sister. Her relationship with her father was virtually non-existent. The story reads, He didnt even bother talking much to them... (189). Connies mother was always picking at her (189). She disliked her mother so much she wished her mother was dead (189). According to Mike Tierce and John Michael Crafton, Arnold Friend is a Savior or Messiah (203) to provide Connie an escape from her family relationships.
In addition to Arnold Friend providing an escape from Connie family relationships, he also provided an escape from the guilt she felt for wanting to leave her family. When complimented by Friend, Connie blushed a little (192). And when Connie was asked by friend to go for a ride, she did not answer no, but rather my fathers coming back (197). Proving she did have a desire to go with Friend. Although Connie already expressed her desire for her mother to be dead, her guilt of going with Friend was relieved, according to critic Greg Johnson because she was giving way to threats of violence against her family (202). She was also described by Larry Rubin as making a noble sacrifice (202), giving a reason to not feel guilty for going with Friend, but rather giving her a feeling of saving her family.
Lastly, Arnold Friend provided Connie an escape from sexual repression. Friend said if Connie goes with him she wont think you have to try to get away or pretend anything (196). Though she obviously knows the intentions of Friend she still asks the question, What do you want? (197). Proving she has a desire to hear Friend wants her sexually. She had an opportunity to call the police, but she kicked the phone away from her (198). She knew once she made the decision to have a sexual relationship with Friend, the place where you [she] came from aint there anymore (199). Mike Tierce and John Michael Crafton states Connies decision to go with Friend as a manifestation of her own desires and furthermore states going with Friend frees her from the limitations of a fifteen-year-old girl (203).
In Conclusion, it is unknown if Joyce Carol Oates, the author of Where are you going, where have you been? intended the story to be an actual reality as indicated by critic A.R. Courtland or a fantasy dream as indicated by critic Larry Rubin. Whether a dream or a reality, Connie chooses to go with Arnold Friend to escape from her family relationships, her guilt over loyalty to her family values, and her sexual repression, if only in her mind.