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Themes Discussed in Joyce Oates' Where Are You Going , Where Have You Been

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Where Are You Going , Where Have You Been by Joyce Oates
It is well known that the most awkward and difficult time in one’s life is adolescence. One is faced with the challenges of discovering who one is and what one wants out of life. One finds themselves frustrated and confused in this particular stage. They are mid way between a bridge. They have left childhood but have not yet reached adulthood. They struggle to find some sense of being and individuality in the world. They are on a quest to find themselves, and in search of a path that will lead them to future happiness. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” is a short story written by Joyce Oates .In her short story Oates shows how easily susceptible one is in this stage of life. Oates shows in her story how the quest of finding one’s self, gives one a false sense of knowledge. It is this false sense of knowledge and the search for self and identity that produces the tragic outcome of the character within Oates’ story.
The setting of “Where Are You Going, Where have You Been,” takes place in the late 60’s early 70’s. This is evident by the reference to Bobby King and the XYZ Sunday programming station which was mentioned within the story (p.122). The 1960s and early 1970s marked the era of the women's movement. Economic shifts meant that more women worked outside the home, and Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment, resulting in many political battles during the long ratification process. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that a woman's right to privacy allowed for legal abortion. Woman know began to have voices. The world was drastically changing and it is within this drastically changing world that Oates introduces four main characters...


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...ave You Been,” As nothing more then a dream. However others view it as, “feminist allegory which suggests that young women of today, like the generations that have come before them, are headed into sexual bondage”. (Korb). There is no evidence to suggest that Connie is experiencing a dream. However there is evidence that suggest that Connie had an untimely death. “watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited.”(p.135) Oates depicts in her story the important of self identity. Arnold Friend is not a symbolic representation of the “devil” as some critics believe him to be. Arnold Friend character is an representation of the challenges and test one faces in ones every day life. It is conquering these challenges and test , that instills in us knowledge, knowledge which brings us one step closer to finding ourselves.


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