Essay Of Life After School By Joyce Carol Oates

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Determining who somebody really is has become more difficult throughout the years as many people zealously find ways to conceal their true identities in order to blend in or hide from society’s standards. In the stories “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and “Life After School” by Joyce Carol Oates, the author establishes that each of her primary characters are masking their true identities in order to be seen differently and/or to be accepted by others. Because each of Oates’ characters tries to conceal their true feelings or intent, the primary characters of each story are ultimately left with an unsolvable dilemma.
In today’s society it is not uncommon for women, especially teenagers or young adults, to hide their true sexual nature in order to avoid being scrutinized by their parents. Connie is a young teenage girl in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” who has a double-faced personality, “Everything about her had two sides to it…” (Oates, 826). When away from her family, she is very outgoing and has a sexualized attitude towards herself and men, which differs from the more childlike identity she displays at home. She has developed a completely different mannerism outside of her household, cultivating her own style of laughing, walking, and dressing in order to make herself more attractive to men. It is not until Arnold Friend, the antagonist of the story, arrives that she becomes more of mixture of her two personalities. Because of her provocative clothing and attitude, Arnold takes a liking in Connie and decides that he will stalk her and confront her at her home. Her wanting to attract older men causes her to become the center of attention of one which would ultimately harm her. Connie becomes te...

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...hus destroy anyone else’s capability of questioning his sexuality. However, after being rejected, he goes home and kills himself in his garage due to him feeling he’d never be able to escape what he truly was. Zachary feeling unable to conceal his sexuality was brought on by not being able to acquire Barbara’s love, leaving him alone and unable to cope with his true identity.
While we all may be shown different faces and persona’s each day, it never becomes clear which a true personality is and which is just a mask. Joyce Carol Oates demonstrates the need for her characters to disguise themselves from the rest of society in order to either be accepted by others or to be seen in a more pleasant manner. However, these characters who conceals themselves are ultimately hurt because of their inability to shed their false fronts and accept who they truly are.
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