Escapism in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been
Joy Carol Oates in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been illustrates fifteen-yearold Connie’s struggle to escape reality while depicting her sexualized and polished persona for
public life. Ultimately, Connie snaps back to reality when a man who symbolizes danger
confronts her. Connie discards the role of a good daughter and sister to her family members to
nurture her sexualized persona. She is a stereotypical teenage girl who is defiant, superficial,
obsessed about appearance, flirts with boys, spends time with friends, loves music, and explores
her sexuality. Connie takes pleasure in her beauty and has nurtured a specific manner of walking,
laughing, and dressing that makes her sexually appealing. She has two personas to navigate her
adolescence life: sexualized and polished for her outside life and a naïve one for her home life.
Her naivety reveals when Arnold Friend arrives at her home and forces to go on a date. Though
she wants to prove her maturity, Connie remains helplessness when an old man-Arnold Friend
gives her sexual attention.
Oates demonstrates how Connie attempts to escape reality by defying authority and
depicting herself as a beauty queen. Oates describes Connie as determined not to become like
sister or mother. She is obsessed with her beauty, and physical appearance as Oates writes that
she had a nervous cackling pattern of craning her neck to look into the mirror or check faces of
other people to ensure hers was all right (Oates 148). She wants a different life from everyone
else in her family. Since Connie thinks that she is prettier than everyone is, she wants to escape
reality by living the perfect life where she will meet the right boy, marry him, and live happily.