Reflect upon your early adolescent existence. What do you personally remember about your adolescence? Were you inadvertently innocent and self-centered? Not to worry if you cannot remember or don't want to, I am sure you have come upon more than a few people that exhibit these two characteristics. In her short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Joyce Oates introduces a fifteen-year-old named Connie who represents an innocent girl, who in this case is associated with being an adolescent and self-centered, constantly thinking about the way she appears in the mirror or by others. Connie's innocence is symbolically evident in the light she radiates and absorbs. However, for the duration of the story Connie struggles amid her innocence in addition to the evil that attempts to devour her. Furthermore, Connie has a personal familiar world, which for the most part is a musically induced fantasy world. Connie's innocence and self-centeredness ultimately leads to the gateway for a sinister person, Arnold to take advantage of her. In her short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Oates uses symbols such as color imagery and music, and Connie's familiar world to illustrate how Connie is caught between two worlds: adolescence, understood to be innocence and adulthood, understood to be the consumption of her innocence. The pattern of these symbolic representations and familiarity suggests that Oates understands how boys can have an adverse effect upon an adolescent girl. .
Color imagery is separated into two parts, light and dark imagery. Light imagery suggests innocence or adolescence. On the contrary, dark imagery signifies evil or the devourer of innocence. The contrast between light and dark imagery is the symbolic representation of the two main characters, Connie representing light and Arnold representing dark. The representation of how Connie mirrors light imagery and therefore innocence can be observed early in the story.