Connie: Character Analysis

Connie: Character Analysis
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Joyce Carol Oates’ short story titled “Where are you going, where have you been?” revolves around a teenage girl named Connie, who is on the verge of sexual awakening and spends almost half her time admiring her beauty in the mirror. Though she is the central character of the plot, her actions, and character are far from that of a protagonist. She proves herself to be incapable of playing the archetypal role of a good daughter or good sister and is not exactly portrayed to be the quintessence of morality or modesty.

Her character embodies narcissism that is “fatal flaw’ in the heroin of the story that eventually leads to the dramatic turn in the story. Other than narcissistic behavior, Connie tries to flaunt her sexuality in order to flourish her sexual persona. Due to this aspect of her character, she often comes in conflict with her family; especially her mother. However, Connie’s character has been largely shaped by her mother, he grudges after her beauty and youth, as she has lost her own.

Her mother’s attitude is the most fundamental reason as to why Connie becomes extremely rebellious and is repulsed by her mother so much that at one she even wishes that she were dead. Her mother and her sister’s characters are vastly flat and static throughout the story, as they follow a consistent pattern that is a nagging mother and a dutiful daughter. On the other hand, Connie’s character transforms and in the end, she is forced to leave her childish fantasies and sense of idealism behind to embrace the harsh realities of life.

Thus, Connie’s character embodies dynamism and is the min character that goes through the most drastic change and makes the most shocking choice by the end of the story. Though Connie is only fifteen, her demeanor shows that she is someone who is a lot older than her age, especially to attract attention from the opposite sex. She may try to portray herself as being older than she actually is but her internal monologues and emotions clearly demonstrates how childish and puerile she is. Her idea of romance and love is heavily influenced by the songs she listens to and popular culture.

There is a huge schism in her personality, she acts one way in front of her parent and changes completely when she is elsewhere. It is revealed that the adult mannerism that she has incorporated in her behavior is a mere pretension; the reader gets an idea when she goes in an alley with a boy but is unable to do anything with him. Connie’s main motivation to act in such a way was only to rebel against her nagging mother and to get the sexual attention from boys that she always wanted.

She is a mere teenager, who tries extremely hard to prove her maturity with the way she dresses and talks but is unable to do so. This becomes even clearer with the entry of Arnold Friend in the picture, who is the main antagonist in the story. His demeanor is sexually appealing to Connie and it is during this time when she is confronted with a key conflict. She realizes that life is not the bed of roses that songs and movies portray it to be. She comes to terms with the harsh reality of her situation with Arnold.

When Arnold attacks her she yells for her mother, and this is a clear indication that for all her mature appearance and behavior she is still a child. However, it is not clear as to what Arnold does to her but eventually, she decides to leave with him; a choice that puts a serious question on her values and morality. However, this decision signifies real adulthood, whereby Connie takes a decision on her own and leaves with Arnold. She is overpowered by his presence and finally leaves her starry-eyed adolescence sensibility behind when she realizes she will never see her family ever again.

Reference: Oates, J.C. 1994. Where are you going and where have you been? Rutgers University Press