Maturity and immaturity in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"


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Joyce C. Oates's "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" maturity verses immaturity.

There is an old saying "there is a thin line between love and hate." Well, there is an even thinner line between maturity and immaturity. Immaturity verses maturity, a battle that has been fought since the beginning of time, and teens. In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Joyce C. Oates brings us to the battle-front of that war. Oates' portrayal of immaturity designs a house of cards, built on a foundation of conceded qualities, resentment, and misguided emotions that inevitably fails.

Initially, Oates portrays Connie as an extremely conceded young woman. "She was fifteen and she had a quick nervous habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people's faces to make sure her own was all right." Oates set the tone for Connie's character by that statement alone. It was obvious that Connie was a pretty girl but what was more obvious is that Connie knew it. Connie's conceded quality was first revealed as she "gawked" at herself in a mirror to the point where it angered her mother. I imagine Connie's mother was probably talking to her and realized she was not paying attention to anything she said, fascinated by the reflection.

Connie's relationship with her mother and sister made home life less than desirable. The resentment that exists between the three of them was unbearable. Her mother's resentment was made clear as she compares Connie's "room cleaning" abilities. "Why don't you keep your room clean like your sister?" from that statement I got the feeling June could do no wrong! June was just the opposite of Connie, plain, quiet, and wall flower type. Connie was constantly criticized and compared. Connie was made to feel inadequate by her mother's constant praise of her sister, thus leaving Connie to create an alternate personality.

Therefore, unable to be her "inadequate" self at home, Connie's misguided emotions developed a second personality for any place other than home. Connie's second personality was nothing like "at home" Connie. This personality was giddy, flirtatious, and loved attention. This dual personality unveiled itself during her outing with friends, "Connie couldn't help but let her eyes wonder over the windshields and faces all around her, and her face gleaming with joy..." The more attention Connie got the more unlike June Connie would become.

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And wasn't that the reason behind this silent cry for help? To attract as much as attention as she could, good or bad, as long as someone paid attention to her for more than a comparison of June. Any attention felt good to Connie because all she had been exposed to was negative attention. That left Connie vulnerable to danger, while immaturity disguised danger as "interest" and Connie fell prey.

In conclusion, immaturity verses maturation was Connie's downfall. It was Connie's mother immaturity in her parenting skills that fueled Connie's "acting out" which caused that "house of cards to crumble." There was no relationship, no foundation of love and trust a fifteen year old needs to discover who they are, thus creating someone who they aren't. The moral of the story, be yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.



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