An Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

An Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

Length: 1898 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

An Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most productive writers of our time. Between 1971-95, Oates published twenty-five novels, eighteen short story compilations, three collections of novellas, five volumes of poetry, six editions of plays, eight books of essays, and countless more umcollected works (Kellman 487). As the format for her writing varies, so does her subject matter. Her creations cover a wide range of genres, but Oates' main fascination is contemporary America with its "colliding social and economic forces, its philosophical contradictions, its wayward, often violent energies" (Johnson 8). Oates' works, and somethimes even Oates herself, have been subject to responses ranging from extreme praise to harsh criticism from the literary community. Oates has won many significant literary awards and has even been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature but has also received her share of bad press. Oates' work has time and time again been criticized for being too violent, too bizarre, degrading to women, and "the exact antithesis to the feminist movement" (gtd. in Wesley par. 32). I believe the opposite is true.

Oates herself has been quoted as saying that her subject matter is "today's culture," and that all she is trying to do is to bring the ills of our cuture "to a place where it can be examined" (Johnson 10). Some of her stories are purely fictional, but many stories seem to be ripped from the headlines. Zombie, a 1995 novel, is loosely based on the Jeffrey Dahmer serial killings (Seltzer 288). The highly acclaimed short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" draws its inspiration from the case of an Arizona serial killer,...

... middle of paper ...

...arterly Review 38 (1999): 487-495. Literature Online. 13 July 2002 .

Oates, Joyce Carol. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Selected Early Stories. Princeton, NJ: Ontario Review Press, 1993.

Seltzer, Mark. Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture. New York, NY: Routledge, 1998.

Smooth Talk. Dir. Joyce Chopra. Perf. Treat Williams, Laura Dern, Mary Kay Place, Elizabeth Berridge, and Levon Helm. Vestron Video, 1986.

Southner, Randy. "Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Homepage." 2002. University of San Francisco. 12 July 2002 .

Wagner, Linda W. Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates. Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1979.

Wesley, Marilyn C. "Reverence, Rape, Resistance: Joyce Carol Oates and Feminist Film Theory." Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 32.3 (1999): 75-85. Literature Online. 13 July 2002 .

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates: A Critical Analysis

- “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”: A Critical Analysis Of her hundreds of short stories, Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” continues to be widely discussed among literary critics. In his article “Oates’s Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, David Gratz claims that Oates’s story can be read as a parable for a young girl’s fear of adulthood. He agrees there is much textual evidence that Connie dreams of her disturbing experience with Arnold Friend and that he is a “psychological projection” (Gratz 55) of her subconscious fears....   [tags: fears, sex, physical metamorphosis]

Powerful Essays
777 words (2.2 pages)

Joyce Carol Oates' Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been? Essays

- Connie, the main character in Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going. Where Have You Been" is a fifteen-year-old girl, just realizing her beauty. It is summer vacation, and she is spending her time either with boys or daydreaming about them. Connie is a typical teenage girl with a desperate need for independence. She does not get along with her mother, and her father is seldom around. He works a great deal of the time, and when he comes home, he likes to eat and go to bed. Connie has a girlfriend who she enjoys going to the mall with....   [tags: Joyce Oates Literature Novel Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1214 words (3.5 pages)

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, by Joyce Carol Oates Essay

- Woven into the twisted short story by Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” stands a figure of demonic proportions; a man whose mere presence develops into an ominous fear, bringing with him a thickness of anxiety and an eerie sense of premature death. While her parents are away on a Sunday afternoon, Connie is approached by a strange man named Arnold Friend who is determined to seduce her and steal her away. Rather than use force, Arnold Friend insinuates his way into Connie’s mind and subdues her vulnerable and emerging sexuality....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Devil Representation]

Powerful Essays
1248 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Where Are You Going Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates

- The decisions that you make throughout life can make or break you; you just have to make the right ones. In Joyce Carol Oates story “Where Are Your Going Where Have You Been?”, the main character is Connie. Connie had an older sister but she was nothing like her. Her older sister always pleased her mom, and Connie did not care. Connie and her friend hang out and go to the shopping center or the movies. One day they decided that instead of going to the mall they would go to the diner across the street....   [tags: Decisions, Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1003 words (2.9 pages)

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates Essay

- Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a modern interpretation of the classic narrative of evil tempting innocence. Oates’ version of the devil allegory combines this Christian model of temptation with contemporary secular society. Connie is a pretty fifteen year-old girl, beginning the process of maturation into adulthood. She begins to become aware of her ability to act of her own volition, but her naivete renders her ignorant to Arnold Friend’s layers of deception....   [tags: Character Analysis, Blindness]

Powerful Essays
1146 words (3.3 pages)

Essay Where Are You Going?

- Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” tells the tale of a fifteen year old girl named Connie living in the early 1960’s who is stalked and ultimately abducted by a man who calls himself Arnold Friend. The short story is based on a true event, but has been analyzed by many literary scholars and allegedly possesses numerous underlying themes. Two of the most popular interpretations of the story are that the entire scenario is only dreamt by Connie (Rubin, 58) and that the abductor is really the devil in disguise (Easterly, 537)....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Joyce Carol Oates]

Free Essays
704 words (2 pages)

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been Essay examples

- In her short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Joyce Carol Oates presents us with a well known maxim: children cannot wait to get older. Tired of her boring and powerless childhood, Connie, the main character, searches for cheap thrills she likens to adulthood. Thus, Connie’s surreal experience (Arnold Friend’s sudden and unwanted appearance in his car) represents a suppressed fear of the inevitable and unknown - growing up. Connie, a stereotypical fifteen year old girl, views her life and her family with dissatisfaction....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Joyce Carol Oates]

Powerful Essays
1522 words (4.3 pages)

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been Essay

- Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockport, New York on June 16, 1938. She grew up on a farm with her parents. She developed an interest for books as a child, yet she had a really tough time increasing a love in books for reading and writing. In her early twenties she got her first typewriter which was given by her grandmother. By receiving ardent support from her parents, she wrote a lot throughout high school and college career. While she was in high school, she participated in a contest in which she has to write about newspaper article and won a scholarship to attend Syracuse University....   [tags: Joyce Carol Oates, Author, Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1222 words (3.5 pages)

Analysis of Where are you Going, Where Have you Been? by Joyce Carol Oates

- The things we do are what define ourselves. Desperate teenagers tend to make unreasonable decisions trying to fit into society. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” a story written by Joyce Carol Oates relates the story of a young girl that flaunts her beauty which ultimately leads to her abduction. Lost in a fantasy world, Connie, a self-absorbed 15-year-old girl, spends much of her time going out with her friends and meeting older boys. One night, she captures a stranger’s attention and he decides to do whatever it takes to take her with him....   [tags: Fantasy, Teenagers, Stranger]

Powerful Essays
553 words (1.6 pages)

Critical Analysis of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Essay

- What The World Has Done... In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" the author, Joyce Carol Oates, essentially asserts that the nuances of one's personality are not generated from within, but rather shaped by external circumstances. This is an argument whose justification is abundantly clear in the inner conflict of Connie, the protagonist of the book. The source of that struggle is her unstable relationship with her family, which ultimately results in her identity conflict. As one who always been deprived of father-figure, she feels the need to acquire attention from boys in order to fill that void....   [tags: American Literature Joyce Carol Oates]

Powerful Essays
854 words (2.4 pages)