Her name was Connie, and she was not unlike many girls of the time she lived in. She was vain, she was constantly at war with her family, and she was in an incredible rush to grow up. Her race to maturity was the trait focused on in Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been." This splits Connie into two different personalities: one for home, and one for anywhere that was not home. Everything about her: her walk, her smile, and her laugh, metamorphoses as soon as she steps out the front door. As she hides the child in and allows the seductive young woman emerges, she feels the world of adults is more than willing to take her in. This world is what she thinks she wants, until the day a shiny golden convertible pulls into her driveway and the mysterious Arnold Friend emerges.
Early in the story on a Sunday morning, Connie’s family leaves to go to a family barbeque down the street. Connie is left by herself and chooses to wash her hair instead of going to church. When she hears a car driving up to her house, her heart starts pounding; she pulls at her hair and says, "Christ. Christ.," not in reference to the Lord or religion in general but because she is worried about how bad she looks. This gives an indication of how the author interprets religion in the story, not important and not serious. Through Arnold Friend, Connie learns that her rush to grow up is foolish and that she is trying to jump into a world that she knows nothing about and that could be potentially dangerous. When a person is put in an incredibly horrifying situation where the outcome is unpredictable many physical and emotional changes take place. Oates’s places Connie, a typical teenager, in this situation. Throughout the story, occasionally using religious undertones, Connie’s language of a typical teenager gradually changes, from calm and somewhat curious to nervous and terrified.
As the story progresses, Connie’s language takes an obvious turn. When...