Adolescence is a turbulent period of one’s life when a teenager spends most of their time with peers and ignores the family’s influence. While it is a natural part of growing up, some teenagers represent the rebellious phase of puberty more vividly than others. Such is the case of Connie, whose frivolous life is the subject of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been. However, there might be more to Connie’s character than a coquettish girl, as she faces a daunting challenge.
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At first glance, Connie is a typical teenage girl with interests relevant to her age. She likes boys and cares about her appearance while holding a grudge against her family (Oates 258). The protagonist has “two sides”: one for the family and the other for everyone else, which is not uncommon for teenagers (Oates 258). Despite the fact that Connie has a fulfilling outside life, she might crave some familial love, too (Oates 261). In her fantasies, she contrasts her sister with a boy who previously wooed her, and she might have an inferiority complex as a result of the constant comparisons by their mother (Oates 261). Perhaps, Connie tries to compensate for what she does not get at home by being with young men, but they will not necessarily bring her happiness.
It is difficult to determine Connie’s true personality, but a stressful situation in the story reveals some of it. First of all, Connie is cautious, and she does not immediately jump into Friend’s arms (Oates 262). She asks the right questions that gradually reveal his intentions and frightening awareness of her surroundings (Oates 265). In the moment of distress, she asks her mother, not her friends or boys, for help (Oates 273). The final resignation could also be interpreted as Connie’s attempt to save her family rather than completely separate from it.
In conclusion, while Connie may seem a typical teenage girl who is only concerned about boys, her character is deeper than that. She wants her family to acknowledge and love her but gets unfair comparisons to the older sister and resorts to outside compensations. However, the incident with friends reveals that Connie values her family and wants to protect them, although she might need help herself.
Oates, Joyce C. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories, 1966–2006. Ecco.