Did Connie Bring Arnolds Actions Upon Herself Her heart was almost too big for her chest and its pumping made sweat break out all over her (105).
Joyce Carol Oates places the reader in an undesirable situation in Where are you going, Where have you been. This situation is a young girl being evilly seduced and raped. Although Connie is young and beautiful, her two contrasting personalities and actions put her in a position of fear and shock as Arnold Friend, takes her to a personal living hell.
The main conflict of the story is between Arnold Friend and Connie. The author brings the audience into the conflict when Arnolds gold jalopy pulls into Connies driveway (15).
Oates then takes us to Arnolds main objective getting Connie outside (20).
As Connie and Friend get more involved in their arguments, the story builds up to a boiling point. The climax of the story is when Connie puts down the phone and gives into Arnold. Friend, with all of his evil charm, leads Connie closer to him in her indecision (145).
Friend has now taken over Connies thoughts. He gains control of her mind and takes advantage of her immaturity by seducing her to come outside and brutally raping her. Arnold, having gotten what he wants, brings the story to a resolution when Connie enters a mystical land where she has never been. Now, Connie is left alone in her living hell that Arnold has created. Friends deception leaves Connie feeling utterly alone and incapable of experiencing any emotions. Oates portrays Connie as a young and beautiful girl.
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Connie loved to look at herself. Her mother always criticized this and seemed to favor her older, more dependable sister. Connies beauty and adolescence are one of the major benefactors to Arnolds conduct. A second characteristic that brings the conflict of the story to her is Connies different personalities. She has two different ways of carrying herself home and anywhere else. Her home personality is a more conservative, unsociable, and acceptable of a young lady.
However, her anywhere else personality brings about many changes not only in behavior but also in appearance. She could be seen as liberal, sociable, and wild young girl who is open to new things (5).
Oates points out a third trait. This trait is visible through Connies actions. Her behavior is two-sided along with every thing else about her. Her actions in the first of the story, where she teases the boys and entices them (5), play a sharp contrast to her scared actions at the end when the boy is enticing her (110).
Connie exemplifies most young girls in her actions. She likes to tease the young men, but doesnt understand the repercussions her actions will bring about. The author takes the subject of a vulnerable young girl and interweaves it with the theme of good vs. evil. Connie is described as young and immature; however, Arnold is described as older and wiser.
The theme is further developed in the way Arnold tempts Connie to come outside. A comparison can be drawn to Satan’s tempting of Jesus Christ such as: the display of his knowledge, making promises, and offering unrealistic rewards. This highlights the classic good vs. evil battle. Nevertheless, Connie is much more susceptible than Jesus, and surrenders to Arnold by going outside. Connie doesnt want to go but feels she has no other choice.
Joyce Carol Oates leaves a bitter taste in her audiences mouth at the end of the story. Through Oates description of Connies characteristics she shows how Connie had to live with the result of her deeds. Oates feels that injustice has been done yet proves her point of young girls opening themselves to these actions with their own actions. She intends to leave the unjustness unpunished so her audience feels only a small part of what Connie felt.
Connie didnt want or deserve the crime that was done to her. In the end Connie realized the innocence she had been trying to escape was now gone. Although the loss of her innocence didnt happen in a way she had dreamed of it was gone and she was taken up just the same by the vast sunlit reaches of the land behind him and on all sides of him, so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it (160).
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