The dramatic irony of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? ” conveys the tone of warning about temptation. Connie’s situation is that she does not feel appreciated at home and uses her looks and actions to get attention and appreciation from boys even if it is short-term. She is self-conscious about her looks and is constantly worried about how other people perceive her. Friend’s fantasy is that Connie will willingly go with him and be his “lover” (605) even before he officially met her.
The reality of the situation is that she does not want to go with this strange man, but is being forced into it because of her fear, which makes her weak and submissive. Connie is fifteen years old and obviously self-conscious because of the love that she never receives at home. Her whole life revolves around attention from boys since she does not feel loved at home. Her sister June appears to be the favorite in the family, as she receives all of the positive attention. Connie's mother doesn’t speak kindly to Connie or about Connie, and Connie doesn't think well of her mother either.
Her father does whatever he can to please Connie but doesn’t seek for a good father-daughter relationship. They never talk about what is happening in their lives and act as if they are only acquaintances. Connie wants to appear older and wiser than she actually is and her head is always full of meaningless daydreams to help her cope. Her promiscuity leads to attraction from boys and older men where she becomes terrified and realizes that she is not as grown up as she thought.
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Connie comes face to face with the harshreality of being forced into adulthood at the age of fifteen because of the special attention of Arnold Friend. 2 Arnold Friend is a smooth talker and has a great influence on the actions of his victims. His word choice appeals to teenagers as does his clothing. He is a short and stocky guy who stuffs his boots to make him seem taller and wears a leather jacket to look young and desirable to teenage girls. The fact that his feet do not touch the bottom of his boots alludes to the devil’s hoofs, significant in that he resembles the devil’s ability to deceive. Don’t hem in on me. Don’t hog. Don’t crush. Don’t bird dog. Don’t trail me” (608) are slang that he rattles off because he momentarily forgets what sayings are popular so he reconciles by making them up on his own. He has a moment when he breaks down in front of Connie and starts to lose his cool, calm, and collected personality showing his panic in possibly not being able to get his way. This shows that he is narrow-minded and does not settle for anything that he does not approve of.
His main focus is on retrieving girls for rape and murder and always goes for the attention-seeking personalities to make it easier to reach this goal. Friend is living a fantasy, while Connie asserts the reality of the situation. When these worlds mix, it is obvious that Connie does not have control and Friend becomes dominant. Friend’s alternate world is made up of his desire to have “dates” and “lovers” (605) when in actuality, he forces women to show him affection by kidnapping them, raping them, and then killing them.
Friend’s forceful words show how he is caught in this dream of what Connie is going to do with him and how perfectly it will all work out in the end when in all actuality, Connie has no intention of willingly going with him. He continuously harps on the fact that he is going to get his way because he insists that his dreams are true. Every time he talks about his fantasy, Connie has a bold statement declaring that she is willing to fight against his dream and 3 bring it back down to a reality as she tries to reason with him. Friend has the gift of persuasion where his greatest tools for manipulation are his words.
He “promises” (607) that he will not harm Connie as long as she does not follow through with what he considers threatening. Connie separates her mind from her body because she suddenly loses control. She is used to being on top and empowered but Friend comes along and takes over. The dramatic irony, during the course of their conversation, implies that Connie was in control of the situation to begin with, but Friend managed to obtain ultimate control of the situation by having her succumb to his power. Modern culture promotes having fun and doing what feels good in the moment.
Connie has poor communication with her family, shown by her rebellious behavior and lack of respect for her parents. She chooses to distance herself from her family which results in them not being there when she needs them the most. Parents are supposed to be protectors and leaders in their children’s lives and when these key aspects are not present, a window is opened for the victimization of youth. The consequences of such situations result in a predicament like Connie’s and becomes an immense concern for the effects that modern culture has on youth.
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