Adolescence (1140). She knew she is very good

Adolescence is filled with the attempts to find a sense of being and individuality. The search to find oneself is to find oneself is often accompanied with challenges and frustrations. This is present in the short story, “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been?”, by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates shows how easily influenced one can be growing up. The story strongly depicts the themes of fantasy vs reality and the search for independence during adolescence. Both themes work hand-in-hand as the main character, Connie attempts to find herself in her fantasy.  The line between fantasy and reality is untimely blurred as Connie lives a fictitious and dangerous life. When Connie gets trapped by the antagonist, Arnold’s friend, she is forced to face a scary reality. Connie is a typical fifteen-year-old girl who lives in her own world. Like many teenagers, Connie fights with her parents, especially her Mom. Connie constantly argues with her Mom about her obsession with herself, as this is the effort to make herself sexually attractive. Connie is always concerned about the way she looks, as Oates states she is always, “craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was alright” (1140). She knew she is very good looking and because of that she is able to attract boys. However, this is not necessarily a good thing. Connie is curious about her sexuality and uses her attractiveness as an excuse to sneak off and meet up with boys. Although, doing so puts her in danger as she creates a persona where she rebels against her parents.   Connie unconsciously makes her fantasy and reality where she believes she has control and is independent. It seems as though Connie is living two lives; Oates writes of Connie, “everything about her had two sides of it” (1141). Meaning, at home Connie still wants to been seen as a child, but away from home she strives to be wanted sexually. Connie continuously lies to her parents about where she’s going and who she’s with to keep her two lives separate. This is seen when Connie lies to her parents to meet Arnold and Arnold’s friend for the first time.  In the meeting of Arnold’s friend, Connie’s sense of fantasy soon turns into a nightmare. In the beginning, Connie is intrigued by him and is very excited. She is curious as to what adult sexuality is like and hopes she will find it in him. One evening, Arnold and Arnold’s friend pull up in her driveway simply wanting Connie to go on a drive with them. Although, as their encounter lengthens it sparks fear. It seems as though Arnold’s friend has two sides as well. The description of his physical appearance makes him seem normal, but his speech makes him seem less human, almost like the devil. Arnold’s friend persona changes when he states, “Soon as you touch the phone I don’t need to keep my promise and I can come inside. You don’t want that” (1149). His tone brought confusion, doubt, and worry to Connie’s head as she realizes he obviously isn’t who she thought he was. The way he is acting makes the line of reality and fantasy blurry for Connie as she did not know how to react. The violent threats by Arnold’s friend forces Connie to escape her fantasy and shift herself to the realities of being a woman. Although, by the time she realizes that, it is too late. Connie’s search for independence has a brutal outcome when Arnold’s friend stabs in the flee to call the police. As Arnold’s friend is stabbing her Connie is calling out for her mother to help. This proves that Connie is not the independent woman she strived to be and thought she is. Connie is confident living in her fantasy until she faces the harsh consequences. Connie’s decisions make it evident that she is not as independent as she thinks she is, and that the questioning of sexuality is not what it seems to be. Connie is spending too much time worrying about her appearance and wanting to grow up rather than just enjoying life. It is clear that she is more obsessed with living in her fantasy than reality because it took until she met Arnold’s friend to escape her fantasy. Connie and Arnold’s friend encounter completely flipped her world upside down as Connie’s fantasy crashed into a disturbing reality due to her poor decisions. What can be taken from this story is that people often perceive themselves as the opposite of what it truly is. People create illusions, or in Connie’s case, fantasy perceptions about what they see things, or how they see themselves.  

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