Carol Oates's Short Story 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been'

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In the short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” American writer, Joyce Carol Oates, introduces the readers to naïve Connie, a self-absorbed teenage girl, who refuses to comply to her mother’s wishes and live up to her responsible older sister, June. Oates skillfully implements the fictional element of symbolism, connecting an object to an underlying meaning in a way to represent ideas or qualities, in order to stress her message to the readers of her work. Joyce Carol Oates emphasizes the significance family will always have in one’s life, regardless of the situation or circumstance, by utilizing the literary element of symbolism with objects such as Connie’s older sister, June, her own physical appearance, and music.
Oates strategically
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Oates utilizes three objects in her short story. These three objects include Connie’s older sister, June, her own physical appearance, and music, to help the readers further comprehend the message she tries to portray to her readers. Oates allows the readers to fully understand how Connie’s family had a significant impact on her lifestyle. She focuses on her looks, she isolates herself from her family, and she depends on her social group/society to fulfill her validation as a human being. However, in the end of Connie’s story, we learn that regardless of the years of pressure and criticism from her family, she still chose to save them by sacrificing herself to Arnold. This shows that Connie still loves her family even after all the pressure that they had enforced on her, which caused her to mentally struggle. From this, it can be seen that she will always make them her priority and choose them over herself. These symbols allows us to understand the meaning behind her actions. Furthermore, it gives the readers insight as to who Connie is and how she got to be who she is today. On account of this, we are allowed to see the true meaning behind her actions; Connie just wants love and acceptance for who she is and what she does from her

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