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Truth Blinded by Fantasy

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Sallyback100
Words 1653
Pages 7
Fantasy Versus Reality
Fiction Analysis
Oates

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Truth Blinded by Fantasy It's not uncommon to catch ourselves snapping out of a daydream only to realize how extent our Imagination was. Not only do we fantasize what isn't possible, but also what we want to believe disregarding how close it is to reality. Joyce Carol Oates, the author of a short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" uses Connie's character to successfully portray the conflict between fantasy versus reality. Connie, who views the idea of maturity as being experienced with men and exceedingly independent, tries bit too hard to follow those approaches to appear sexually attractive. However, Connie's flirting comes to an end as Arnold's unexpected visit to her house escalates into a horrific incident of kidnapping. This experience forces Connie to confront the reality, ultimately having her fantasy world crumbled. As mentioned previously, the biggest fantasy of Connie's is her perception of maturity. Oates describes Connie as an attractive fifteen year old girl who had a "habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors, or checking other people's faces to make sure her own was all right" (323). Clearly, Connie's major concern consists of finding her sex appeal and having her looks approved by older boys. Without having any proper preparation, Connie throws herself into the merciless world of adulthood. "Someone leaned out a car window and invited them over... [she felt] good to be able to ignore him" (324). This line shows that Connie is pleased by the attention she receives and simply measures her own maturity based on her ability to select guys to go on dates with. However, Connie is too naive to realize that love in her fantasy world is distant from the reality of adult sexuality.
Many times in the story, Connie is being disapproved by her mother for not behaving like her older sister, June. "June did this, June did that... and Connie couldn't do a thing" (324). Oates also says that Connie "knew she was pretty and that was everything" (323) to her. It's almost as if perfecting her appearance is the only way for Connie to win over her sister. Connie is tired of hearing her mother nag to the point where Connie even "wished her mother was dead... and it was all over" (323). It's present in this line that Connie has been raised in an oppressive environment where home is not a place for comfort but a place to escape from. Connie perhaps craves for attention outside of her family to fulfill the lost affection at home. The constant scolding of her mother doesn't make Connie to snap out of her 'trashy daydreams' but instead to rebel against her. Connie's rebellious attitude is evident when her friend's dad drops them off at a shopping plaza. Since the dad never asks what they had done, the girls easily go off "to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out" (324) and secretly goes on dates with 'older kids.' Rebelling against her parents was Connie's best try at distancing herself from her family and growing more independent. This idea of obtaining freedom gave Connie a sense of maturity which made herself fit more with her fantasy of a woman. However, when Arnold was threatening Connie to follow him outside the house, "she cried out, cried for her mother"(335). Yet again, the reality of Connie's inability to act under such pressure and her subconscious need for mother's love and protection during extreme fear is shown. Connie exactly knows the appropriate behavior for her young age that's acceptable at home. Oates says that "Everything about [Connie] had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home" (324). Because Connie is aware of her lack of adult persona, she acts past her years to portray herself as her interpretation of a grown woman. Again, fantasy versus reality is apparent through Connie's perception of how women should dress or have their hair and makeup done and those affect the way she carries herself in public. "Her mouth which was pale... but bright and pink on these evenings out, her laugh which was cynical at home... but high-pitched and nervous anywhere else" (324). Connie makes these physical changes thinking that she would grow more mature, like her ideal woman. In reality, maturity isn't gained from physical growth, but from years of experience and obtained wisdom of life. Connie is clearly far from the definition of maturity but her fantasy blinds her from this cold truth. Misguided ideas of maturity place Connie in a risky situation because in order to be treated womanly, she thinks she needs to socialize with older men. She feels more accomplished to be asked out by an older guy such as Eddie who Connie met at the drive-in restaurant than by just a boy from high school. When Connie notices a man staring at her, she looks away "but couldn't help glancing back" (325). Connie wants to check if he is still looking at her but mostly, she is enjoying the pure fact that a man is holding interest in her appearance. She overlooks the harsh reality of adult sexuality and cruelty of men and forces herself into the adult society where she thinks she belongs. After all the pretentious act that Connie presents in this 'adult society', she thinks she has fooled everyone perfectly. In reality however, the world of maturity is no fit for someone as naive as Connie. She is rather fooled herself by Arnold Friend who plays the perfect role in her fantasy world. When Arnold pulled up to Connie's house, she quickly washes her hair to look more presentable. As Connie walks up behind the screen door, Arnold asks her to come out for a ride. Then Oates writes, "Connie smirked and let her hair fall loose over one shoulder" (327). Connie is still presenting an act to appeal sexually to men. She rejects him numerous times as if enjoying the attention and this act only advances Arnold's sexual desires. Connie's fantasizing about picture perfect romance that she often hears in love-songs also makes her more vulnerable to manipulation. When Arnold assures Connie that she'll come running into his arms if he were to get her place lit up with fire, Connie thinks back to a song instead of realizing the danger of the situation. Oates states that Connie recognizes his words from a song about "a girl rushing into her boyfriend's arms and coming home again" (333). She fantasizes a romantic scene in her head even in such life-risking moment. Connie is feeling more womanly than ever having a guy cling on to her so desperately. However, Connie starts noticing something off about Arnold as she assumes him to be a lot older than he claims to be. Arnold also tells her that he has found out all about her and where her family is. Then finally Connie's instinct screams for danger as she draws back in overwhelming fear. With a sudden change in his sweet voice, now threatening unlike when he first approached her, she is found utterly hopeless. She snaps out of her fantasy world she once so strongly believed to be the reality. Unfortunately, by the time Connie is exposed to the bare face of the society she was living in, it's already too late. Connie submits and watches herself walking out the door where Arnold waited and went to "land that Connie had never seen before" (337). Oates purposely ends the story allowing readers to assume Connie's horrendous future. There are multiple of lessons we can learn through our study of fiction and Oates's theme of fantasy versus reality. Oates specifically uses Connie's character to make us become aware of the unpredictable nature of life. We can never fully discover someone's true color until we experience both positive and negative faces of that person. Oates tells us through Connie not to be too confident in our assumption of another person for it blinds us from the actual truth. Connie confidently thought of Arnold as any other guys who finds her attractive, wanting to ask her out on a date. So she went on flirting with a mean who happened to be a kidnapper. This tells us to stay alert when encountering with strangers because the first impression may just be a pretentious act they put on. For all we know, the stranger could be just like Arnold who dresses like a teenager to lure younger girls like Connie or even Connie herself who disguises herself to appear more like her ideal woman. Reading fiction allows us to explore different human tendencies, in this case a tendency of fantasizing merely what we'd like to believe. Study of different fictions lets us experience various situations that we normally wouldn't in our society today. Reading fictions allow our minds travel back in time to understand the differences and give credits to writers who wrote challenging stories that were unacceptable to society back then.
Oates expresses in her short story, "Where Have You Been, Where Are You Going?" about what teenagers normally grow up experiencing such as increasing curiosity of adult sexuality. However, growing up under such disapproving mother has influenced Connie to satisfy her curiosity in a different manner. Connie strove to become the woman in her fantasy world who interacts well with men, lives an independent life, and falls beautifully in love. Connie wanted to explore her sex appeal as it attracted boys that quenched her crave for affection. Despite how far her fantasy was from the reality, Connie dreamed on and on, getting carried away like our typical daydreams. We should learn through Connie's character to never let our guards down because the unpredictable nature of life brings trouble when it's least expected.…...

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