In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” the main character Connie is determined to appear and act older than her adolescent age. She focuses the majority of her attention on presenting the most mature version of herself for the boys and girls that she meets. This desire to grow up too quickly contributes to the tragic irony that occurs when she is corrupted by Arnold Friend, the devil figure of the story. The “car ride” that Arnold attempts to get Connie to go on is sinister and hints at evil things to come, indicating again that Arnold is not at all what he has tried to appear to be. According to Easterly (1990), “Oates emphasizes the major themes of deception and identity by ironically contrasting Connie’s adolescent perception of intriguing hints concerning Arnold Friend with the discerning reader’s more sophisticated recognition of who or what he is.” Easterly insinuates that the sexual themes in Oates’s work are dark and wicked, and do not necessarily correlate with the elements of a coming-of-age story. The immaturity of Connie’s personality and and the dark intentions of Arnold and his henchman figure, Ellie, provide a centralized theme of appearance versus reality for the story, one that may be compared with certain eleme...
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...l of colonial fiction. Instead, part of her appeal seems to be his sense of Mrs. Das’s similarity to him[...] Because it is almost impossible to ascribe exoticness or foreignness either to the Dases or to Mr. Kapasi, Lahiri’s story here as elsewhere thoroughly confounds the Manichean sense of self and other[...]
Lewis here references the Manichean philosophy, one that represents the duality of thinking. He expresses that Lahiri’s work is one that cannot be seen in black and white, and many different meanings can be extracted from the actions of the characters in the story. This can also be said of Oates’s story.
In conclusion, the works of Joyce Carol Oates and Jhumpa Lahiri may be compared and contrasted due to their common theme of appearance versus reality, and their contrasting sexual values. The two works provide ample opportunities for literary analyzation.
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