Joyce Carol Oates: Search For Self-Identity

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In Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”she paints the picture of a teenage girl whose mother is jealous of her, father is absent, and sister is twenty-four and lives at home. Connie is a fifteen year old girl who sneaks around with her friends, is a bit boy crazy and is very much a daydreaming teenager. The beginning of the story starts off rather innocently, then through a series of hints scattered throughout the story, takes a turn for the worse when Connie’s eyes are opened to a face of evil no girl should ever have to experience and no boy should ever become. Oates reveals how family relationships directly and indirectly affect the way teenagers act and how it impacts their search for self-identity. Connie’s relationship with her mother is not one she particularly values. Connie is a pretty girl, and “her mother had been pretty once too”, but she is not so much anymore and almost anything Connie does aggravates her (Oates 369). This rigid relationship pushes Connie further away the older she gets. Everything about Connie has “two sides to it,” her shirt “would look one way at home and one way when she was away from home”, she was not fully herself anywhere she went (370). This act shows the way Connie lacks a sense of self. She feels as…show more content…
He does not ask how her day is, he does not ask about her life. His lack of attention is a direct reason Connie is in search for positive reinforcement and attention from other men. She goes out with her friends to a drive-in restaurant “where older kids hung out,” to meet boys and in search of the night to give them the “blessings they yearned for” (370, 371). She feels good about herself when she can turn them down, “It made them feel good when they could ignore him,” but that path ultimately leads her to Arnold Friend, the one person she wishes she could walk away from that she
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