Analysis Of ' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been `` Essay

Analysis Of ' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been `` Essay

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Isolation is a common and necessary theme in traditional American coming of age stories. Joyce Carol Oates uses familial isolation in both of her short stories to enable the main character to grow up. In “Where are you going, Where have you Been” Connie has bad relationships with the other women in her family, and so she separates her familial life and her social life because “everything about her had two sides to it one for home and one for anywhere that was not home” (Where 1). Connie has done this to herself to get away from her judgmental mother and her perfect, frumpy older sister. This separation is initially what Connie thinks being an adult is, and as such she does not need her family’s opinion or approval and does not need to go to the family barbeque. This pseudo independence is what allows Arnold Friend to prey upon Connie and force her into the adult world.
The familial separation in “How I Contemplated” was not set off by the narrator, but rather her parents. When the narrator is caught shoplifting the mother sweeps the problem under the metaphorical rug while her father “handles his daughter 's shoplifting episode in the same clinical manner that he uses to treat his patients” (Flibbert 2). The father approaches his own daughter’s plea for attention as he would any other strangers issue. Both the father and mother do not address the narrator about what she did and how it was wrong, instead they fixed the problem with the store owner and did not return to or even talk about the reason she stole from the store. The narrator’s parents do not act as parents in this short story, instead of guiding their children and teaching them from their mistakes they act as stand-offish and self absorbed piles of money who refuse to...


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...or shows Connie’s motivation for agreeing to go away with Arnold is to protect her family, for earlier in the story Arnold threatens her with the murder of her family and the destruction of her house. “[Connie] accepts all the assumptions Arnold Friend uses, and when he threatens her with the violence to her family, she feels that she must, in fact, go with him” (Wagner-Martin 2). This self-sacrificing gesture shows Connie’s maturation, for in the beginning of the story Connie only spoke about her hate for her mother and intense embarrassment she felt as a result of her sister’s lifestyle. The author has Connie grow as a character through her realization that she would put herself in danger to keep her family safe. Connie’s bad decisions and self-induced isolation are redeemed by the love that Connie holds towards her family, showing the maturation of this character.

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