Oates might give the impression that the protagonist Connie is self-centered and narcissistic, to oversimplify the lesson of the story that we should be risk-averse. But Oates has been very expressive in detailing about contexts and teen-feelings. Children from that age group can certainly relate to this story, which later turns into a tragedy. This empathy makes the reader realize that Connie is not the self-absorbed teenager, instead, she is the victim of a rapist.
Connie’s long blonde hair and brown eyes do make her stand out. She catches the attention of every onlooker. She is a self-conscious, sexually innocent girl. When the car of a stranger pulls into her driveway, she immediately checks her hair and her overall appearance (Oates 74). She always wants to appear pretty just like any normal girl. Sometimes she even seems preoccupied with her appearance. This portrayal tells the reader that Connie is not narcissistic, instead, she is insecure about her looks. She considers her beauty as her true identity and feels that the world treats her based on how good or bad she looks. She also believed that her mother and she do not get along well because her mother is jealous of her beauty. On the other hand, she also holds the belief that she gets better treatment than her sister June because she is prettier. This is a strange combination of traits and comprehension that Oates has put in one character. Seemingly it is hard to spot her insecurities but a closer study of her character reveals how vulnerable she is, especially in the hands of a person willing to molest her.
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Between Worlds: A Reader Rhetoric and Handbook. Ed. Susan Bachmann and Melinda Barth. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 2012. 70-84. Print.