The presence of several antagonists; Connie’s mother, Arnold Friend, and Ellie, make the story become very interesting and introduces several real world dynamics that the reader can actually feel. The story is a cautionary tale of a young girl who flirts her way into coming face to face with the devil, in the form of a man named Arnold Friend. The dialogue between Connie and her mother is intensely real and represents a relationship of resentment by a mother who is trying to live vicariously through her daughter. Connie’s mother is frustrated at the fact that Connie is beautiful, young, and carefree.
Connie’s contempt for her mother pushes Connie to rebel more and more to be spiteful. Connie changes throughout the course of the story by becoming more careless and more provocative. While becoming more daring, she experiments with acting older than she is and devilishly promiscuous. She goes too far and ends up face to face with danger when a stranger she did not notice, notices her. The setting of the story influences the plot and the characters in many different ways. Connie’s home is her haven, her protection, but that protection is challenged when Arnold Friend shows up and threatens to, “Hurt Connie’s people”(p. 95) if she does not come out of the house. The climax indicates that Connie has no choice but to agree to the demands of Arnold Friend that she, “Maybe you better step out here” (Oates 995). The climax comes when the tone of Arnold’s voice changes, “It becomes a little flatter” (Oates 995). The change of tone in Arnolds voice suddenly makes Connie frightfully aware of her inability to control her current situation, although the change is not physical, it is so grasping that it seems to, simultaneously, jolt the very core of both Connie and the reader.
Arnold Friend promised, “I won’t come in the house unless you touch the phone”(p. 995), but Connie knew Arnold could force his way in at any moment. The point of view from the narrator is a very unbiased position. The intention of the narrorator is only to tell Connie’s story to the reader with no opinion and without shaping the theme. The story would be likely to change if told from a different view point. If the story was told by Connie’s mother, the story would be more judging of Connie and her behavior, rather than a tale of Connie’s story and events.
If told by Connie’s mother, the story would also be more of a warning to young girls of the trouble that comes from acting a part much different from who you are. If the story had been by Connie, it would most likely read like a diary, leading up to how she had been raped. The writers prose style is both literal and figurative. The author uses figurative analogies such as, “His whole face was a mask” (p. 996), meaning that the niceness on Arnold Friend’s face was fake and to show the danger that he posed to Connie with his devious intentions.
Irony can be found most profoundly in the story when all Connie wants is to be noticed and feel more grown up, and then Arthur Friend takes notice of her and forces her to grow up by forcing her to leave her house and go with him. Children often leave home for an adventure, whether for a new life, school, or love. Readers must put themselves in the “shoes” of the characters and ask themselves if they are making choices any different than the ones they would make under the same situations. Connie leaves home to pursue a new life because her family does not provide her with loving and affectionate relationships.
Connie needed their guidance but never received it. Connie’s life changed when Friend entered her life, things changed because he was aware of how badly she wanted someone to love her. The title of the story, “Where are you going, Where have you been” helps to give a broad subject for discussion and thought once the reader has finished the story by summing up the path that Connie has chosen for herself and the death of her innocence. The story effectively tells the reader of the consequences that came from where Connie was going, and the long lost simplistic innocence of where she has been.