Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Essays

846 Words 4 Pages
Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” begins as a benign and familiar tale of a misunderstood teenager: the protagonist, fifteen year old Connie, rebelliously expresses her sexuality, as she painstakingly feints the hindrance devised by mother. Connie as perceived by mother suffers from an overindulgence of one’s appearance – “excessive gawking at one’s self, excessive hair spray, excessive day dreaming”. Though, in all honesty, Connie exhibits the traits of most, if not all typical American teenager. But soon, the generous and familiar tale became perplexing and controversial as the antagonist Arnold Friend appeared. His conflicting confrontation with Connie became grim and unsettling as Connie descends into the unknown. “A writer’s job, ideally, is to act as the conscience of his race. People frequently misunderstand serious art because it is often violent and unattractive. I wish the world were a prettier place, but I wouldn’t be honest as a writer if I ignored the actual conditions around me” (Wagner qt. 1). The familiarity of Joyce Carol Oates’s literary prose that was acquired through research suggests that Oates is a versatile writer whose obsessive fascination with the appearance of the American culture: its contradiction, violence, corruption, malaise, is the backbone of some of her works. Her brilliance is relating her characters intense turmoil to a larger context – the American life. And while some critics may dislike the often…

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