Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
by Joyce Carol Oates
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
Her mother went scuffling around the house in old bathroom slippers [...] (11)
Connie's mother is an image of the future Connie doesn't want – the life of a domestic housewife.
[Connie and her mother] kept up a pretense of exasperation, a sense that they were tugging and struggling over something of little value to either of them. Sometimes, over coffee, they were almost friends, but something would come up – some vexation that was like a fly buzzing suddenly around their heads – and their faces went hard with contempt. (11)
Connie has a love-hate relationship with her mother, with whom she identifies (her mother was once pretty too) but at the same time she has to distance herself from her mother in order to establish her independence. Compare as well the image we get here of their "faces hard with contempt" and the later description of Arnold's face as a "mask."
"If my father comes and sees you –"
"He ain't coming. He's at a barbecue [...] Yeah. Sitting around. There's your sister in a blue dress, huh? And high heels, the poor sad bitch – nothing like you, sweetheart!" (95-98)
Connie can't seek the protection of her father or her family now. Arnold's ironic image of a typical family barbecue makes the family seem fragile in the face of his violence.