All people experiences changes in their life. Some of these changes are small such as the passing from one grade to another in school. Other changes are more intense, such as the transition from childhood to adulthood. In Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Oates goes into depth regarding the transition from being a carefree, innocent child to adulthood. In the short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" two separate worlds are drawn to the reader's attention. The first is the normal daily life of Connie, a fifteen year old girl living in a home with her parents.
Connie's daily life is simple childhood. The second is the day Arnold Friend shows up at her doorstep and brings with him the difficulties of what the future holds. Connie is described as being an attractive fifteen year old girl whose actions are stereotypical of what one might expect from a girl her age. She spends her time listening to music, shopping, daydreaming, having fun, and trying to meet boys. Her friends share the same interests and when they are together they, "would lean together and whisper and laugh secretly". Connie puts on two different shows, one to her friends and a completely separate one to her family.
"Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home". Connie does not show any real affection for her family. She lies to her mother about who her friends are and what she does with them. She presents her family in such a way that one might suspect that they were an embarrassment to her. Physical appearance was one thing that Connie was obsessed with her own. Connie lives a life where she daydreams about boys.
Her mother tries to keep her head out of the clouds, telling her "her mind was all filled with trashy daydreams". Connie's world is invaded the day that Arnold Friend pulls up in her driveway. Even before Friend shows up, Connie has an experience where she wakes from a dream "and hardly knew where she was". This was just the beginning of the experience. Arnold Friend asks her to go for a ride; the location is unknown to either of the characters when the subject is brought up. This is where the title comes into perspective "where are you going".
The location is left unknown in order to emphasize the uncertainty of the future one faces when one comes of age. As Arnold Friend tries to seduce Connie into the car she went deeper and deeper into the house searching for her youth. Yet, it was not there. She uses the home as a place to hide from her fears yet not realizing that she lives there. "The kitchen looked like a place she had never seen before, some room she had run inside... ".
. There is a sense that she has changed from her childhood ways and the house is no longer her youth and she is now an adult. When she reaches the decision to leave the house to go with Friend, it is almost as though she has no choice. This directly relates to one's own feelings on growing up, no one wants to yet no one is left with the choice not to. Becoming an adult is not a choice that one can make it just happens. Her leaving the house to go with him also represents her leaving behind her childhood and venturing off to the unknown.