Tuesday, September 3, 2019
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. The realism and characterization with which Oates makes this point in the story have garnered much praise. Connie is presented as the quintessential teenage girl. Like any other female adolescent, she is preoccupied with make up, boys and music. Great characterization is seen in Arnold Friend - described by Oates as one who appears at first glace as "a boy with shaggy, black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold"(427) - who employs manipulative conversational tactics to gain psychological control of Connie. Later, he even changes his apparel in order to draw Connie to himself, an act which makes him reminiscent of an enticing devil. Connie is a girl whose perception of the world has been shaped by her family and "culture," causing her life to be literally split into two. At home, she acts as if she were an Zabakolas 2 innocent child that is unconcerned with the dynamics of the opposite sex. But once she ventures into the "real world" she screams for male attention. In her domestic life, she has virtually nobody and nothing upon which to depend (a fact that she e... ..., shows what happens to the psyche of the individual who is shown no love in the larger environment or in the "safety" of her own home. Connie was influenced by many damaging sources that prohibit her from achieving a proper self-identity. As a result of being neglected by her father, denigrated by her mother, compared to her sister and her desire to be loved by her family and others, she developed an identity problem that ultimately led her to the devil. It is not until the very end, through her acquaintance with Arnold Friend, that she is able to achieve some sort of happiness. Even then, her happiness is a tragedy as the devil wheels her in. Works Cited Oates, Joyce Carol. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Literature and the Writing Process. Eds. E. MacMahan et al. 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River(NJ):Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.