Where Are You Going Where Have You Been Theme Essay

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Sexual violence by men towards women due to society’s conservative approach regarding the subject of ‘sex’ is the main theme of Joyce Carol Oats’ story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Although, after reading through this story several times and reading many other view points, I now believe there are many symbolic messages being projected between the lines of this diabolic tragedy. It is like a beautiful tapestry, the more you look at it the more you appreciate its beauty, not only as a whole but each small detail it has to offer. However, for the purposes of brevity this essay will focus on the thesis mentioned above. The story is set in America in the 1960’s, the era of the sexual revolution and when women took a stand against the predetermined place society had reserved for them. This story…show more content…
She lived moment to moment without any thought of consequences. She pursued pleasure with a passion and loved music and the company of boys. “Oates points out…Connie spends her summer ‘thinking, dreaming of the boys she met’ (p. 38).” (Connie’s Tambourine Man: A New Reading of Arnold Friend p. 221) “…Connie’s problem is that she has no sexual fear, uncertainty, or guilt, not even in repressed form. There is nothing psychologically complex about her. She is simply a pathetic teen-ager who isn’t being raised very well. Her church is a ‘bright-lit, fly-infested’ drive-in restaurant, and her inspirational music is mind-numbing rock-and-roll, both middle-class cliches of the early sixties.” (Joyce Carol Oates’s ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ as Pure Realism p. 506-507) Connie was a reflection of the times. She did not have much to fill her mind with from her family so she seemed to need music to fill the void. Music seemed to have a hypnotic effect that could put Connie into a dream like state even though she was awake. Music actually seems to be a

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