Innocence In 'Heat And Where Are You Going,'

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Joyce Carol Oates writes about the depravity that our youth is faced with everyday within the American Culture. The themes in “Heat” and “Where are you going, where have you been” include a very real picture of violence, loss of innocence, and the brutality of evil deviance that our children face within their community. Oates allows the reader to look past the words on the pages and create their own horrifying conclusions on what happens to the innocent characters while encouraging the reader to draw on their own life experiences. Oates introduces us to two dominant and evil male characters in her stories. The first a youth named Roger Whipple in “Heat”. Roger is a nineteen year old young man with mental maturity close to that of his victims, “he was that age himself in his head- sixth grade learning abilities” (Heat). He is “a big slow sweet faced boy” (Heat) who rapes and murders two eleven year old twin girls. The second is a much older man…show more content…
The narrator as a woman in “Heat” admits to reliving the grief of the events and deaths of her classmates, Rhea and Rhoda, and how with age the events later impacted her adult life. The narrator, recalling a time in her childhood when she realized “we could all be the same girl” (Heat) felt guilt for surviving, while the other girls, similar to herself met the fate that they had. As an adult, she engages in a sexual affair years later, and continues to have these girls in her thoughts, imagining their last moments. Rhea and Rhoda had “eyes like dolls” and “had faces to small” to have lived long enough (Heat). But when the boy Roger “snapped” (Heat) it was for no other reason than his own overwhelming excitement and inability to control his hormonal confusion. He too had lost his innocence, possibly by the hands of his older brothers, and in turn stolen the innocence and lives of these girls all at

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