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The short story ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ is about a young girl, at the beginning of adulthood. She is controlling and disrespectful and has a bad relationship with her mother, she’s annoyed by her sister, she likes listening to music and watching movies, and she spends a lot of time going out with her friends and meeting boys.In this story Connie represents women and where they stand in our society. She tries to be older than she is, and her head is filled with daydreams and popular music that feed her ideas of romance and love.
At the drive-in she first meets Arnold Friend who makes a ‘sign’ in the air and let’s her know that he’s after her. She then think that he is a creepy guy. But for some reason, she can’t stop looking at him. The next day, when the girl is alone at home, the boy, named Arnold Friend, arrives, together with his companion, Ellie, and invites her for a ride.
At first, Connie participates in what seems for her a relatively harmless game. However, as their conversation progresses, the protagonist realizes that she is in great danger. The boy knows very much about her family, friends, and even about her neighbors. He threatens Connie to burst into the house if she calls the police, and to hurt her family unless she goes with him. The tension mounts and the story builds to a terrifying climax. The girl picks up the receiver, but it is ‘clammy and very heavy’, and her fingers are unable, ‘too weak’, to dial the number.
Convinced by Arnold Friend, Connie puts back the telephone, and despairs that from this moment her life will change, she will not see her mother again, and will not sleep in her bed anymore.
Whatever Friend’s intentions rape or murder it is clear that Connie does not have the tools to cope with him. When she first sees Friend outside her house, he is listening to the same music station as Connie. At first this connects Connie and Friend but she soon realizes that he may not be all that he seems. Friend’s age is also important as for the first time in her life Connie is being confronted sexually by an adult. All Connie’s previous sexual experiences have occurred when she was in control and were with boys a year or two older than her.
At the end of the story it is the adult Friend who is in control and the reader senses there is an end of innocence for Connie. The fantasy she associated with her looks has a very bad reality, a reality that Connie is not prepared for. There may also be a sense of irony at the end of the story. Connie wanted to control her life or be independent however by focusing on her looks she has allowed an older man to control her.
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