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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Joyce Carol Oates

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Connie -  The fifteen-year-old protagonist of the story. Connie is in the midst of an adolescent rebellion. She argues with her mother and sister, June, and neglects family life in favor of scoping out boys at the local restaurant. She tries to appear older and wiser than she is, and her head is filled with daydreams and popular music that feed her ideas of romance and love. When Arnold Friend arrives at Connie’s house, she must confront the harsh realities of adulthood, which bear little resemblance to her fantasies.

Read an in-depth analysis of Connie.

Arnold Friend -  A dangerous figure who comes to Connie’s house and threatens her. Arnold has pale, almost translucent skin; his hair looks like a wig; and he appears both old and young at the same time. He seems like a demonic figure, perhaps even a nightmare rather than an actual human being, but his true character is never fully clarified. He speaks calmly and quietly to Connie, which makes him seem even more threatening, and in an ambiguous scene near the end of the story, he may attack her inside her home. He ultimately convinces Connie to get in the car with him.

Read an in-depth analysis of Arnold Friend.

Ellie -  A friend of Arnold’s. When Arnold drives up to Connie’s house, Ellie stays in the car, listening to music and watching while Arnold talks menacingly to Connie. He seems mostly indifferent to what’s happening but offers to disconnect Connie’s telephone, an offer Arnold refuses. His strange first name is close to the name Eddie, the name of the boy Connie was with on the night she first saw Arnold.
Connie’s Mother -  A near-constant source of frustration for Connie. Connie and her mother bicker constantly and disagree about almost everything. Connie’s mother envies Connie’s youth and beauty, which she herself has lost. At the end of the story, Connie’s mother is whom Connie cries out for when she is presumably attacked by Arnold.
June -  Connie’s older sister. June is nearly the opposite of Connie. Twenty-four years old, overweight, and still living at home, she is a placid, dutiful daughter. She obeys her parents and does chores without complaining. Because June goes out at night with her friends, Connie is permitted to do so as well.

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