"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"
By Joyce Carol Oates
A short story titled "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" tells a tale of an adolescent girl who suffers consequences of growing up in the unsupportive environment and the society preoccupied by the media. It is considered to be the most famous work of Joyce Carol Oates, an American writer, the winner of many significant literary awards and a two- time candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The story was first published in the fall of 1966. It is dedicated "to Bob Dylan", as though, after having heard Dylan's song "It's all over now, Baby Blue" Oates got inspiration for the story. She was also influenced by the article about Charles Schmid, a twenty- three year old serial killer from Tucson, Arizona, known as "The Pied Piper of Tucson", and by the old legends and folk songs of Death and the Maiden.
The story, narrated by a third- person observer, is set in a quiet town in the USA, and takes place during the summer. It opens by introducing the protagonist, Connie, and the conflicts within her family and the girl herself. The fifteen- year old teenager cares very much about her appearance. She is constantly criticised by her mother, and does not have good relations with the older sister, June, to whom Connie is often compared. Her father, either absent from home or not especially willing to communicate with his family, offers the girl no direction. She has nobody to rely on for support or for advice about teenage problems or decisions. Left alone in her journey towards maturity, she is vulnerable to the influences of her friends, the society, and the songs she listens to. Lack of happiness and love at home makes Connie look for these feelings while going out with friends or meeting with boys. As the narrator states, she has two separate identities, "one for home and one for anywhere that was not home". Among relatives she is a defiant child, for whom sex is not an...
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