Essay on Anaylsis: Joyce Carol Oates and Little Blue-eyed Girl

Submitted By babyxz
Words: 1014
Pages: 5

Although Marilyn Monroe’s popularity as a sex symbol filtered some of the judgements against sexual exploration in the 1960’s, those who rebelled against society conservative’s views were still shamed. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, the antagonist encountered a violent ending as she searched for self-independence through sexual maturity. The story took place in suburban America, in which the setting forced women to conform to sexist gender roles and inequality. In addition, Oates’ characterization of Connie seems to suggest that the title is meant to question her past actions, and whether it could have caused the results she faced in the end. Although the dictions and tones used resemble a cautionary tale, the story was filled with judgement instead of lessons. These analyses of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” shows that slut-shaming and victim-blaming existed in the 1960’s, in which Oates highlighted how society kills those who do not conform to the norm.
The short story is told in a third person point of view, while the verbs are in the past tensed. The antagonist, Connie, was a 15 years old year who would always check her face in the mirror and look into other people’s faces to check her own. Her mother would scold her to stop “gawking at [herself” (Oates, 1). But Connie stated that her mother was “always after [her]” because her mother had lost her looks and Connie still had hers (Oates, 1). Also, her mother would compare Connie to her sister, June, about their work ethic and personality. Thus, she would often wish that her mother would die and she would too out of anger. Connie also complained and made fun of June for being “plain and steady” (Oates, 1). She also lied to her parents about where she would go late at night. Instead of going to the movies and shopping plaza like she told them, Connie and her friend would go to restaurants to meet with random boys. Oates also mentions that they would dress in shorts and ballerina flats to attract men. When she was meeting with one of the boys, Eddie, Connie encountered Arnold Friend for the first time. The climax began when she meets Arnold again when he drive up to her house while her family was away for a barbeque. At first, Connie was excited by the strange and older man that was interested in her. Then, she became fearful when he started threatening and demanding for her to get into the car by her own choice. Arnold said that he had seen Connie “that night and thought, that's the one” and he “never needed to look anymore." In the end, Connie eventually decided to go with Arnold and opened the screen door to a vast land. The story had an ambiguity ending and plot, where the readers could interpret Connie’s actions in the end.
Oates used dictions to describe Connie that made her character seem vain and fake, everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home” (Oates, 1). Although Connie was just a regular teen going through puberty, her rebellion seemed to be highlighted throughout the story in a negative format. In the beginning, the story described how Connie is conceited and insecure by dressing provocatively. Then, she seemed like a disrespectful child who would lie and cheat. In comparison to her sister, Connie did not conform to the female role of a quiet housewife. Conversely, Connie was actually a feminist since she would find power in rejecting society’s norm of gender inequality. For example, one night Connie and her friend saw a boy from high school they did not like who invited them over to his car. Males always had authority over females and females were expected to be obedient in the 1960’s. Connie and her friend seem to understand this idea of sexism and still rebelled against it since they said it “made them