Where Are You Going Where Have You Been Theme Essay

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Joyce Carol Oate’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” expresses multiple themes throughout its story. These themes that are presented and are the most abundant in Oate’s short story are, fantasy versus reality, independence, and absence of authority. All of these themes contribute to the story about a young girl who is exploring herself and her body, in the hopes of finding her true independence as a woman. Her curiosity is what eventually leads her to a negative time in her life, a time that changes the way she views her self and the world that surrounds her. The first theme that is seen in the short story is fantasy vs. reality. We see this theme portrayed through the main character, Connie, who works diligently to present the…show more content…
The theme of independence is seen primarily in the conflicts between Connie and her family, and the efforts to make herself sexual attractive. They both contribute to her search for independence. As a fifteen-year-old girl, Connie, relies on her parents to care for her, discipline her, as well as enabling her social life. Her friend’s dad seams to be the only one who can provide those things for her, for example, when he drives the girls to the movie theater. “Sometimes they did go shopping or to a movie, but sometimes they went across the highway…to a drive-in restaurant where older kids hung out” (Oates 1193). Connie has distanced herself from her parents’ protection and control. She lies to them about being where she says she will be, in order to see a boy. It just took one time for Connie to run into the wrong person. Meeting Arnold Friend has exploited her desire for independence and urges her to leave her childhood behind. She may go into an alley with a boy for a few hours, but no matter what happens there, she is always driven back home to the familiarity of her family. Connie going through an emotional and a physically violent time has forced her transition into the adult world, viciously separating her from the life she has come to know and the world around
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