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CRA Essay

December 13, 2021 in

Somaiya Sime

Prof Alyssa Yankwitt

Prof Elisabeth von Uhl

FIQWS 10008


Is independent need or want?

     Adolescence is the time when a child is at the beginning of experiencing a lot of new environments and the time when they start realizing how the real world may be from a teenagers’ point of view. This is the time when teenagers get persuaded and influenced easily while figuring out the balance and difference between social, private, and normal life. Not only that, but they might also get obsessed with themselves which may lead to some consequences such as perverts. These people sexualize others, it’s all they can think about since their mind is filled with the thought of lust. Similarly, In the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Joyce Carol Oates shows the stages of infantile sexuality and hysteria through the Freudian lens that, Connie tries to be an independent girl, the particular reason for the circumstance is her own mother neglected Connie about her appearance and she constantly gets compared with her sister, which leads to a root of the loss of self-esteem in Connie’s life; her story actively demonstrates that to a lot of unexpected dramas and desire to become an independent woman made her experience that she might have only faced during her adulthood, or she might have not experienced anything if she had a proper upbringing and healthy relationship with her mother.

As Connie starts her first step of becoming independent, she starts wearing clothes that would attract men. She goes out with her friends at a “restaurant where older kids hung out.” (Oates), fearless of what type of trap she might be falling into. For example, once while Connie was in one of the restaurants, a man “sat backward on his stool, [turned] himself jerkily around in semicircles and then [stopped] and [turned] back again,” (Oates) and after a while, he asked Connie if she wanted something to eat. Without knowing the consequences of talking to strangers, especially random old men, “She said she would” (Oates). This highlights Connie’s nonchalant character – she is relaxed with this situation because she does not know how to react to this situation as it was her first step of becoming independent. This situation explained by one of the Freudian concepts that are seen in the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” was the Latency stage – “The emotion of sex-love. .  does not make its appearance for the first time at the period of adolescence” (Freud 2229). This means that the idea of separating and comparing the behaviors of the opposite gender and the libido (sexual desires) is not active at this stage of adolescence when the sexual desires and energy is a major influence on the choices they make. In this stage, the body is distracted from the real world such as friendships and hobbies. This connects to Connie because she is at the stage of adolescence, where she’s more focused on her independence than on making friends, understanding emotions, and sexual desires.

       As Connie keeps living her independent life, she starts avoiding family functions that have her mother involved because her mother neglects her for her appearance and her actions. Her mother always judges her, and she would say that her hair stinks (Oates) and ask rudely “You think you’re so pretty?” (Oates). This shows the genuine hatred her mother has for Connie. For example, once there was a family barbeque and Connie was left alone at home. After her family left, “she heard a car coming up the drive” (Oates). This was a nerve-racking moment for her because “Her heart began to pound, and her fingers snatched at her hair” (Oates). Connie noticed a person coming out of a “painted bright gold(Oates) car, it was a manipulative toxic guy named Arnold, trying to get Connie out of the house. As mentioned, Connie did not know the guy, so she refused to get out of the house. But the argument between Connie and Arnold kept going back and forth to get Connie out of the house to fulfill his desire for love. This argument made Arnold angry because his ego was hurt by the rejection of Connie, so he started to give Connie threats about spying on her family. He described her sister “in a blue dress” and, her “[mother] helping some fat woman with the corn” (Oates). This makes Connie worried and scared of what his next step might be. This time, he mentioned his real intention was to get Connie into the trap of the fulfillment of his desires. He says “Yes, I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is, but you will,” (Oates). Arnold continued that “[he’ll] come inside [her] where it’s all secret and [she’ll] give in to [him] and [she’ll] love [him]”. This demonstrates his pedophilic character. He wants his sexual needs to be fulfilled through a young teenage girl, who has no clue of the intentions he has against her, and she doesn’t have any idea of sexual involvements between two people. This connects with one of Freud’s concepts of a stage of infantile sexuality of not successfully passing the five psychosexual stages. This is when the growth of fixation appears where the body is obsessively interested in someone. Freud interpreted as “sexual satisfaction at this period of life is the masturbatory excitation of the genitals” (Freud 2230). As we know that Arnold is looking forward to his desires towards Connie to satisfy his masturbation. This demonstrates that Arnold did not successfully pass his psychosexual stage but rather he constantly looks for satisfaction. Moreover, he convinced Connie by telling her that her house is like a “cardboard box [he] can knock down any time” (Oates) He tried to manipulate her by saying she is better than her family because they would not sacrifice themselves for her, as she is about to sacrifice herself by living with them and fulfilling the family’s wants. He was able to manipulate her successfully as she takes the decision to go with him by thinking that her independence will eventually grow after this decision. The article “Developmental Review” adds that the consequence of having a good relationship with parents is important because “self-relevant feedback that supports young persons’ psychosocial development, especially in transitions from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to emerging adulthood”(Volume 32). This demonstrates the importance of relationships with parents are important especially reaching the stage of adolescence because that’s the time there’s a high risk of teenagers being misguided. For example, “In Particular, Adolescents’ self-esteem has been analyzed in relation to various fields such as parental and peer relationships, academic success, physical changes, (article-Frontiers). This shows that Connie’s loss of self-esteem was because of her mother’s negligence. One of the connections with Connie’s behavior that is shown by Freud is example is his hysteria which “is a form of degenerate modification of the nervous system, which shows itself in an innate weakness in the power of psychical synthesis” (Freud 2210). This connects with Connie because she’s unconscious about her surrounding which makes her take the decision of leaving our house. One symptom we see in Connie of hysteria was her speech was reduced. Meaning, she was not able to speak for herself when she was getting manipulated by Arnold or her family.

     These toxic and traumatic experiences of Connie make her think that she needs to think for herself before anything but without overthinking about what others would think. As she also experiences manipulative moments with Arnold, and he made Connie realize how her life contains a life of an ordinary girl inside of a cardboard box and how her life is being controlled by her mother. Even though Arnold’s intention is not to help her to become independent rather fulfill his desires. While not aware of the consequences, Connie decides to go with Arnold rather than stay with her family; makes it comes to an end of Connie facing her own mother neglecting her about her appearance, a root of the loss of self-esteem in Connie’s life. This proves that if her upbringing was properly developed done by introducing her to the real world and what she might be facing at this stage of her life. This includes understanding the power of words as it is very easy for an adolescent to get influenced and manipulated by people very easily as they are unaware of the consequences of any situation like these. Taking the decision to be an independent woman is not wrong at all if they are well taught and introduced to the world of adulthood and independence. The unhealthy relationship with her mother also demonstrates that it is very important to have a healthy relationship with your family for better psychological development.



Outside Sources:

Shibboleth Authentication Request,

Babore, Alessandra, et al. “Depressive Symptoms, Self-Esteem and Perceived Parent-Child Relationship in Early Adolescence.Frontiers, Frontiers, 1 Jan. 1AD,