The Journey to Adulthood in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates

The Journey to Adulthood in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates

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“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Analysis
In the American society, when individuals reach adolescence, they begin to search for their identity by exploring their interests and opening their mind to new notions and ideas. This is the psychological and physical human development that ultimately leads them to their adulthood. Joyce Carol Oates' short story depicts a fifteen year old girl with typical teenage concerns. She has to face the realization of the meaning of maturity in the American civilization when she is ripped out of her childhood by Arnold Friend. In the short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", Joyce Carol Oates suggests that when teenagers are in the coming of age, they are easily fooled and taken advantage of due to the vulnerability and misunderstanding of the youth in the American culture.
Connie’s choice of music, rock music, adamantly exemplifies the misconception of the minority which is then taken advantage of due to the lack of maturity and experience in the American culture. When Connie returned back home after a feud with her mother, she turns on the radio and listen to a record of Bobby King where she calmly relaxes and bathes in the music. Joyce Carol Oates writes, “She sat on the edge of her bed, barefoot, and listened for an hour and a half to a program called XYZ Sunday Jamboree, record after record of hard, fast, shrieking songs, she sang along with, interspersed by exclamations from “Bobby King”….And Connie paid close attention herself, bathed in a glow of slow-pulsed joy that seemed to rise mysteriously out of the music itself and lay languidly about the airless little room, breathed in and breathed out with each gentle rise and fall out of her chest” (p.2-para.5). Thi...


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...nce can often lead them to new dangers as they have to face the troubles and conflicts of adulthood even if they are not prepared for it due to their vulnerability of being a youth. This is easily supported by Connie’s influence on her choice of sexual music, the idealistic simulation of being an icon, and her incapacity to fully comprehend a situation as she gets exploited and mistreated from an adult. Ultimately, the short story indicates the evolution of Connie and her interaction with Arnold has shaped the way she viewed the world as she is calling out for her mother and stepping into a realm that is beyond her awareness. Joyce Carol Oates reminds the American culture that without regulations, support, and a sense of role models when crossing the threshold of maturity, it can often lead to many crises and imminent grief because of the imprudence of teenagers.

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