The Masks We Wear

Topics: Joyce Carol Oates, Short story, Fiction Pages: 4 (1590 words) Published: March 23, 2012
Lori Stetson
Professor Gregory
ENL102 MWF10
Theme Comparison Essay
February 15, 2012

The Masks We Wear
Mask is a word that conjures images of children trick or treating on Halloween or a masquerade ball, both of which are wonderful memories shared by many people. However, for some there is another side to the same word. Mask, is a word that makes some people think of lies, manipulations and deceit. The denotative meaning, according to Webster’s English Dictionary is: “a cover or partial cover for the face used for disguise; something that serves to conceal or disguise” (Webster-online).  Perhaps this is what Joyce Carol Oates was thinking about when she wrote “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Maybe Angela Carter was thinking about different masks that people put on when she wrote the short story “The Company of Wolves.” Both of these works of short fiction have strikingly similar connotative meanings behind this word, yet contrastingly different ways of telling the same tale.

Joyce Carol Oates is an author of many talents. She has written novels, short stories and essays, some of which are penned under the pseudonyms of Lauren Kelly and Rosamond Smith. In her work of short fiction “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” Oates weaves a tale of deception, manipulation, sexuality and lies. The tale begins with a pretty fifteen year old girl named Connie who struggles with her identity. Being the protagonist, Connie appears to consider herself a skilled flirt that can handle any situation, as most fifteen-year-old girls do. Connie has come to display two different personas. She is a girl of two minds, one that is displayed at home and the other comes out everywhere else. To show this concept, Joyce Carol Oates writes, “Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home” (Oates 63). Connie is deceptive with her parents to get her way; however, lies, manipulations and her own sexuality do not work in...
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