A Vital Conflict in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Essay

1049 WordsFeb 12, 20135 Pages
Adam Brown Prose analysis A Vital Conflict In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” In one of her well-known works, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, Joyce Carol Oates presents an electrifying event in the life of a young teenage girl named Connie. Although numerous conflicts exist within this fictional account, there is one in particular that serves as the basis for the focal events of the story. That conflict is Connie’s relationship with her family, or more particularly her parents. There is constant friction between them, and although she is too naïve to recognize it, the fault is entirely her own. In Oates’ story, the conflict between Connie and her family develops from a combination of several sources, and it makes the story easier to relate to real life and thereby more meaningful as a whole. Perhaps the most significant source of the tension in her family life is Connie’s age. The story takes place as she is beginning to transition from childhood to adolescence, so her desires and attitudes are entirely understandable. She wants her freedom. Yet, like nearly every other child that experiences this, she does not entirely understand what independence entails. Connie’s actions demonstrate this observation. As the exposition unfolds, it becomes obvious that she feels more comfortable with her friends than she does at home. She feels happiest when she can enjoy the freedoms which adults are permitted, and her parents stand in the way of those liberties. All these feelings become visible to readers when Connie’s attitude changes upon being freed at the mall with her friends. As soon as she leaves her family and is treated more maturely than perhaps she actually is, many of her apparent wants seem satisfied. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she has only tasted one small, sweet portion of adulthood, and her parents are
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