Analysis of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Essay

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Allison Hurst
Professor Ben Mayo
English Comp II
30 April 2011
Analysis of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates In 1966, Joyce Carol Oates published her short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. Oates was inspired to write this story after reading about a serial killer that was referred to as “The Pied Piper of Tucson”. Oates was disturbed by the number of teenagers that this killer was able to persuade to help him and keep his secrets (Oates 1). Oates uses irony, imagery, and symbolism to support her theme of evil in this short story. Oates starts off by introducing the story’s 15 year old protagonist, Connie. Connie is symbolic of innocence and good. However, Connie has
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Oates does not give a concrete ending to the story, thus allowing the reader to come to their own
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conclusion. However, Oates’ theme is present in whichever ending is chosen. Evil has persuaded good to concede. The title itself is ironic. Connie is allowed to go out with her girlfriends without her own parents asking exactly where she is going or where she has been when she returns home. Her friend’s dad does not ask these questions either (Oates 470). There is a sense of “moral indifference of the entire adult society” portrayed in this story (Wegs 1). Wegs points out, that since her parents do not bother to keep tabs on her that Connie is left defenseless with the temptations presented from evil.
Parents should take the time to ask their children where they are going, who they are going to be with, and what are they going to do. Evil is rampant in the world, and probably more so today than it was in the 60’s when this story was written. Perhaps by writing this story, Oates intended to send a message to parents and children alike. Parents, know what your children are doing; be concerned about their well-being, and let them know you care. Children, talk to your parents, listen to them, and always present yourself with respect so that others will respect you in return.

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Works Cited
Oates, Joyce Carol. "’Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ and Smooth Talk: Short Story Into