Fantasy Vs. Reality Where are you going, Where have you been
Fantasy versus Reality in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates has a constant theme of reality and fantasy running parallel for 15 year old Connie. This short story begins with a description of Connie’s vain personality. The narrator describes her as pretty and self-centered (Oates 421). To emphasize her selfishness, Connie is contrasted with her sister, June, who is chubby, plain, and well-behaved. Connie’s mother always praises June for her work ethic and help around the house, but says Connie can’t do anything due to “trashy daydreams”. There isn’t much of a father figure in Connie’s life due to her father being away for work most of the time and detached when
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However, her fantasy comes to a grinding halt when she begins to look past Arnold’s outer appearance and realize he is only a front. His drastic attempt to seem fashionable and cool is uncovered when she reads a popular saying from last year on his car and notices the lines around his lips when he grins (Oates 427). She finally realizes he isn’t a teenager, but much older. Once Connie outs Arnold’s masquerade, he becomes increasingly demanding, while continuing to compliment and call her by pet names. As Connie’s fantasy begins to drift away, Arnold’s true appearance is seen. He is described as possibly wearing a wig, having black tar-like material painted on his eyelashes, and his boot is at a strange angle, as if his foot wasn’t in it (Oates 429). This more accurate description is considered by Michele Theriot to be evil in the form of Arnold. Is Arnold hiding his demonic hooves in those greasy boots, and his horns underneath a wig? Marie Mitchell and Olesen Urbanski continue with this theory by pointing out “that he represents a superhuman force. ―’Don't you know who I am?’ ... he asks in an eerie fashion, as if she had encountered him before, as one does evil” (2). His omniscience regarding Connie seemed mysterious and creepy. He knew exactly what her parents and sister were doing, even though they were out of sight (Oates 428). This thorough description validates his threats towards her family if she didn’t