Coming-of-age stories commonly record the transitions—sometimes abrupt, or even violent—from youth to maturity, from innocence to experience of its protagonist, whether male or female. Greasy Lake by T.Coraghessan Boyle and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates are great examples of traditional coming-of-age stories. The roots of the coming-of-age narrative theme are tracked in the male protagonist’s perspective for Boyle’s short story, while the Oates’ story captures the coming-of-age theme from Connie; a female protagonist’s perspective. In both short stories, the authors fulfill the expectations of a coming-of-age genre when they take us through the journey of rebellion and self realization, as the protagonists become mature and leave their innocence behind.
Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessen Boyle presents a coming-of-age genre when the protagonist and his two friends have to face violent trials and tribulations in order to grow up. The three young men are described to be rebellious and bad, which signals a youthful time in their life. For example, "We were all dangerous characters then. We wore torn “up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine…We read Andre Gide and strike to elaborate poses to show that we didn 't give a shit about anything” (294). Rebellion is often a youthful undertaking and the young men enjoyed being bad or looking bad. In fact, this was a time when it was good and accepted to be bad (294). One night, the protagonist takes it too far and behaves recklessly with his friends at Greasy Lake. After a wild night, the boys arrive at Greasy Lake and assume they see their friend’s car, but ...
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...d Friend waited” (336).
Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessen Boyle and Where are you going, where have you been by Joyce Carol Oates both fulfill the expectations of the coming-of-age-genre when the authors take us through events that the protagonists experience—transforming them from youth to maturity. Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessen Boyle ends most positively because the male protagonist realizes he didn’t murder Bobbie, and he learns a life lesson; there are dangerous consequences for bad actions. Where are you going, where have you been by Joyce Carol Oates ends negatively because the female protagonist, Connie, is kidnapped by the antagonist, Arnold Friend. Connie’s fate was not “sealed” because she was female, but because as an individual she is a vulnerable, young and naïve. Her “fate” could have happened to anyone wather male or female, who is vulnerable and young.
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