Paper Example. Reality Vs. Fantasy Theme

Published: 2023-07-10
Paper Example. Reality Vs. Fantasy Theme
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Sexual abuse Character analysis Books Gender in literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1433 words
12 min read

"Where are you going, where have you been? "is a short story written by Joyce Carol Oates. It is a story illustrating the fleeting period during adolescence. There are numerous themes in the story. The major theme in the story is the contrast that exists between fantasy and reality and illustrated from the beginning of the story, which shows Connie to be an absolute beauty. It is in comparison to her sister and her mother. Connie feels superior because of her beauty and continually looking at herself in mirrors. Connie makes use of her beauty to seduce boys, such as Eddie. Her beauty provides her with a feeling of self-worth and authority.

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At the beginning of the story, Connie holds her beauty as the key to her superiority. Her extreme belief in her physical beauty puts her in conflict with her mother. Connie believes that her mother is envious of her beauty. She, therefore, used her looks to obtain favors and advantages and demonstrated by her ability to gain the attention of boys quickly. Her beauty is, however, a tool of deception. It is because Connie doesn't behave the same way she does at home as when she is with her friends. Her two-faced behavior is responsible for attracting Arnold. He is the embodiment of how looks can be deceiving. It is because he appears like an ordinary boy. Connie's physical beauty and her seducing trends place her in an endangering situation. Connie realizes that her beauty becomes her source of downfall. It is through her realization that Arnold seeks to abduct her.

Existence of Evil Theme

The existence of evil is the other theme exhibited in the short story and shown by the malicious acts of rape and murder netted on Connie. The evil committed by Arnold portrayed as the devil. It is despite his appearance as a typical teenager. Numerous clues show that Arnold is not who he claims to be. First, he claims to be eighteen when he looks older. He also seems to know several details about Connie and her family.

The Search for Freedom Theme

Connie is regularly seen engaged in conflict with her family and majorly demonstrated through her endeavor of making herself more beautiful. Connie is an adolescent and therefore relies on her family for her well-being. She is in constant need of freedom, as illustrated in her continuous fights with her family. She does this by increasing her sexual appearance and by her seduction of boys. Connie's enticement of boys demonstrates her desire to explore other people's worlds. Despite her exploration, Connie always gets back home safely and manifested by Connie accompanying boys into alleys. However, her need for freedom puts her into jeopardy. Arnold treats her like a mature individual. Connie continually lies to her parents about going to the movies with boys.

The State of The Female Gender

Connie and her family live in a time characterized by revolving around men. It is illustrated by the need for her friend's father to drive them where she encounters boys. It also is seen when Connie immediately joins Arnold when he asks her out for dinner and abandons the company of her friend. The short story also illustrates how women do not have strong associations with each other. It is the case with Connie, her mother, and her sister June who do not have a secure connection. Connie spends her entire time thinking and fantasizing about men. Other women also illustrate the inexistent bonds between women. It includes women such as her aunts and her mother quarreling and taking smirks about each other. Connie views her future spent like her mother's. The final illustration of the diminishing nature of the state of women is the following. It is in her abduction and rape by a male.

The Fleeting Nature of Innocence

The short story illustrates the continuous struggle exhibited by Connie and her need to mature. She has a constant need for evolving and her need to involve herself in sexual intimacy. Connie, therefore, makes use of her physical beauty to seduce boys. Throughout the short story, Connie engages herself in sexual innuendos with boys. Her prowess in attracting boys provides her with a feeling of superiority and increased independence. Her desire to grow out of innocence leads to her encounter with Arnold, who gives Connie knowledge and exposes her to sexual encounters. The contact with Arnold leads to the raping of Connie. Arnold is responsible for the loss of life of Connie and he rape.

Sexuality is another aspect that the short story illustrates as beginning during adolescence and demonstrates in the story by Connie engaging in activities with boys. Connie, for instance, spends a lot of time with Eddie in his car. She and her friends spend a lot of time seeking to gain the attention of boys. Connie portrayed as a girl who tries to pay attention to boys. Connie consumes a lot of media and information, which is sexual and focusing on sex. Arnold makes use of language, which is sexual to Connie. Despite her constant encounter with boys, there is an illustration of her innocence. There is an illustration of Connie 's desire to maintain her integrity. There is the use of imagery and symbols which are sexual.

The Theme of Music Fantasy

The short story demonstrates the increased influence of music on teenagers. Her usual activities, including time with her friends and seducing boys, encourage the involvement of music. The significance of music is demonstrated from her description with the use of musical terms such as a high-pitched laugh. The music contributes to increasing the exposure to information regarding sexuality and romance and is illustrated by the phrase in the short story in which Connie has the same feelings of pleasure as she did while spending time with Arnold. Connie uses music as an escape route from her normal life. The struggles she faces with her family increase her involvement with music.


The short story illustrates a significant aspect of authority. It is majorly regarding the lack of parental authority over children seen in the story through Connie. She does not receive any influence from her parents. Connie's mother is not capable of detecting any deceptions despite critically watching her. Her parents do not provide any advice and regulations for her to follow. They also do not offer protection to her. Her father is characterized as being present but absent mentally.

I oppose the concept of lack of authority and influence. The presence of a firm hold of authority and influence over children is necessary to shape their characters and therefore influence their behaviors. Parental authority is required as it helps in building and structuring the personality of a child. The presence of authority leads to the establishment of particular moral ethics that prevents them from engaging in destructive behavior.


The short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" narrates the life of a teenager known as Connie and her interactions with Arnold portrayed as evil. Connie, a teenager, known for physical beauty, is described as someone who is in a constant quarrel with her family. It is because she considers herself superior in comparison to them. Connie held her mother in contempt and found her mother as jealous of her beauty. She believes this because her mother always praises her sister June.

The short story illustrated the level of independence and lack of supervision and represented by Connie and her friends taken to the mall and left alone without supervision to spend time with friends. Connie meets with Arnold, an older individual, and she intentionally leaves her friend Becky to go hand out with Arnold.

There are numerous themes used in the short story. The major theme is the difference between fantasy and reality. The subject showed by the deceiving nature of Arnold, who appears to be a typical teenager. He, however, is a 'devil' as illustrated by him raping and kidnapping Connie. Connie's seductive appearance and behavior are responsible for attracting Arnold to her. At home, Connie portrays different mannerisms in comparison to when she is with her friends. At public, Connie behaves like a mature young woman. The second theme is the existence of evil and portrayed by Arnold, who is a bad individual. It is in utter irony to his earlier impression as being a typical teenager.

Work Cited

Cengage Learning, Gale. "A study guide for Joyce Carol Oates's "Where are you going, where have you been?". Gale Research, 2016. Retrieved from,+Where+Have+You+Been%3F&ots=_0LSHHOpmB&sig=FdCNsv87BowuyBgOgGkrove6koA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=short%20story%20%E2%80%9C%20Where%20Are%20You%20Going%2C%20Where%20Have%20You%20Been%3F&f=false

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