Themes In Joyce Carol Oates Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

1506 Words7 Pages
There are many important and interesting themes present in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” One major overlying theme is that of the apathy of adults towards the youth in society. Apathy, or general disinterest, can be innocuous, but it can also be incredibly harmful. Unfortunately, in “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” it falls into the latter category, likely leading to the demise of the protagonist. Oates makes it fairly clear throughout the story that the adults present in Connie’s life are responsible, at least in part, for what happens to her. This is shown with several different methods, which will be discussed in this paper. One of the first, and most obvious, methods that Oates uses to display this opinion is her very symbolic title. “Where are you going?” and, “Where have you been?” are both questions that parents typically ask their children, especially teenagers, to make sure they are safe and not up to anything. This indicates that perhaps Oates believes these are questions that need to be asked.…show more content…
Wegs makes the point that Connie’s father is not terribly involved in Connie’s life. She believes that his limited involvement in his daughter’s life is a large part of the problem (Wegs 67). He does not ask what she is doing. He does not attempt to discipline her. Frankly, he does not interact with her at all. This is also evident in Connie’s friend’s father, as shown in the statement “…and when he came to pick them up again at eleven he never bothered to ask what they had done (Oates 664).” This man quite literally dropped a pair of teenage girls off in town and left them to their own devices, and he is completely uninterested in what they did while he was gone. Both men show apathy towards the happenings in their children’s lives, and it ends very poorly for Connie, likely in either rape or
Open Document