Oates has provided the perfect character to undergo a healthy dose of psychoanalytic criticism. Connie, who is 15 and very beautiful, has a habit of checking her face in mirrors to reassure herself that it is still as beautiful as it has always been.
Critics have applied various literary theories and approaches to this fascinating and perplexing story. There are multiple interpretations of this story from different perspective. Feminist critics argue that Oates writes Connie as a young woman who suffers the same experience with other women in a patriarchal society.
Some critics explore the literal reasons behind the story which usually come down to the cultural or social issue such as violence and rape that the author wants to address.
While all these interpretations have made their own points, they also have flaws in their arguments.
Fresh readings are always in need to provide a broader and deeper way to understand this story. Psychoanalytic criticism usually is to analyze and evaluate a literary work with the application of a certain psychological principle which is established by theorists such as Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.
The analysis will mainly focus on the interaction between Connie and other people, the role that Arnold Friend plays in the story and symbolic meaning of music in the story.
Alternative interpretations also will be discussed for comparison and weakness will be pointed out and refuted. The story begins with an introduction of Connie and her family life.
Her mother always condemns her and praises her sister.
Her father just simply ignores them in daily life. Connie never feels close to any of her family members, and she prefers life out of home with her friend to a cinema, shopping mall and their favorite place, a drive-in restaurant where she feel free.
In his article of psychological analysis of Connie, Clifford J. Kurkowski sees the isolation and alienation that Connie get from her family and confidence and feelings of taking control that she get when she is out as the psychological basis which cause her to choose leave in the end.
However, he limits his view to social acceptance while something deeper remains unnoticed. Connie hates home not only because of her relationship with her family but also pressure she feels.
June, her sister, represents the perfect image or good model that the society requires. He shows up when other family members are out, and there is no supervision and protection for Connie who is vulnerable to hurt and temptation.
He appears to be very charming and appealing with his shining car, glaring sunglasses and bright jalopy. The fact that Arnold knows everything about her without a proper reason, somehow, suggests that he is more than someone who offers cares and acceptance as Clifford J.
Kurkowski argues in his article. And Arnold Friend tempts Connie later in the story by uttering the truth of her deepest desire in an order tone. In the process, there is no physical violence involved.
All struggles stay on the psychological level. It seems to be the only reasonable choice for her to go with him.
Music is something throughout the story and plays a significant role in the process of confrontations.
Patrick Paul Christle offers a detailed analysis of songs involved in the story as evidence that music strengthens the feminism theme. Since there is no direct use of lyrics in the text, this analysis appears to be farfetched.
Connie feels free wherever there is music. In the drive-in restaurant, she listens to the music when she enjoys attention and freedom. In home alone, she listens to Bob Dylan when her family is out and there is no restriction.
When she confronts Arnold Friend, there are several times that Connie notices that he uses lyrics and feel him more persuasive then. Again, music shows as a guide that leads her to instinctual impulses. However, Connie surrenders herself to her desire at the end. Work Cited Rhodes, Bess.
Killing Two Birds with One Stone:Joyce Carol Oates begins “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” with a reference to Connie’s vain habit of compulsively checking her reflection in mirrors.
This reflects the short story’s initial inspiration: Renaissance tales of Death and the Maiden, in which a skeletal death incarnate seduces a beautiful young woman. Joyce Carol Oates's story can be interpreted as an enactment of the familiar "rite of passage" theme in literature; moreover, Oates's story is influenced by the work of Arnold van Gennep, an early.
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"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is a short story by Joyce Carol Oates that was first published in May 31, · Joyce Carol Oates' story is about a young girl, at the edge of adulthood.
Just like any teenager she sneaks around, going to a drive-in restaurant to meet boys rather than to the movies like she told her srmvision.coms: 1. In Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” critics argue whether the character of Arnold Friend, clearly the story’s antagonist, represents Satan in the story.
Indeed, Arnold Friend is an allegorical devil figure for the main reason that he tempts Connie, the protagonist, into riding off with him in his car.