Comparing The Short Stories 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'

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The transition to becoming an adult is a somewhat magical experience in many ways. An awakening of the senses, the ability to detect and verbalize deeper emotions and the new and exciting responsibilities of the adult world are just some of the new experiences individuals journey through while growing older. However, as we examine two short stories, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? By Joyce Carol Oates, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright, we see that perhaps this fragile stage of life isn't always meant to be taken lightly. The main characters of these stories, Connie and Dave, are examples of how exactly the transition to adulthood and maturity should not be welcomed before its time, and the dangers of attempting to grow up too fast can bring.

In both of these stories, impending adulthood and the weight of the responsibility of it are major themes. As a result of this, we are able to observe the choices both of the main characters make as they are faced with the realities of
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Where are You Going, Where Have You Been? Was published in 1966, a time when women's roles were still fairly family-focused and it was the expectation that women would marry and take care of their own home. (Bardy) If Connie had grown up hearing and observing that she was expected to one day marry and begin a family, all the more reason why seeking out men would make sense to her. Likewise, in the 1940's, the era in which The Man Who Was Almost a Man was set, men were expected to be the providers of the family, and the protectors of the homestead. Dave may have assisted in achieving financial stability for his parents and brother, but the other men he worked with liked to make fun of him. (Wright 25) The search for masculinity brought his mind to a gun- a weapon with power, that required skill to shoot, and an object that would help him to be seen as a
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