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Where Are You Going Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates - Essay Example

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The focal point of the paper is to present an analysis and evaluation of the short story by Joyce Carol Oates named Where Are You Going Where Have You Been This story was first published in the Fall issue of Epoch magazine in 1966…
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Where Are You Going Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates
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Download file to see previous pages This story narrates the sexual advances in the midst of a time that represents the idea and philosophy of the beat culture along with its attempt to change and ignore all traditional concepts. However, what comes out of the story is the lust of Arnold and the opportunity to blend the nihilist ideology of the era into personal satisfaction. This process of seduction is well documented in this story and it reflects the complex nature of the juxtaposition within traditional moral and rebellious nature of the generation of the beat culture.

It should be mentioned that Larry Rubin's assertion that Connie's encounter with Arnold Friend is only "a dream-like projection of her erotic fantasies" (Rubin, 202) is mistaken for several reasons. Firstly, it is not desperately required for a person of that generation to fantasize when the elements are readily available. Secondly, there is no single instance where it is hinted that Arnold is a metaphor or result of a fantasy. He appears completely real and menacing all the while. Thus it cannot be stated that critic Larry Rubin is correct when asserting that Connie's encounter with Arnold Friend is only "a dream-like projection of her erotic fantasies" (Rubin, 202).
It is true that Joyce M. Wegs mentioned that "Arnold is clearly a symbolic Satan" (Wegs, 202) but it appears that he is the product of the era itself. Arnold is no different and his character is well depicted in the story where his ability is low and he seeks a benefit of low interest and he is satisfied with his gains. It can well be stated that are always some negative points in the time of change and people like Arnold are the individuals who are instrumental in incorporating those negative for their momentary and intangible benefits.
The doubts, dilemmas, and confusions of the beat culture were gradually, quite slowly indeed, giving way to a new and unique cultural revolution. It was happening all across the Western world and the characters of the story find themselves in the midst of it. People suddenly seemed to realize that there was enough of political warfare to disgrace humanity. The prevailing standards suddenly seemed to be meaningless, and the insurgent youths wanted something different to happen. This 'something' took place in the form of nihilism and beat movement and the story depicts exactly this mood when an opportunist like Arnold took full advantage of the situation of Connie. He tried to justify his acts by yielding bizarre psyche and philosophies, actually fallacy, that was so relevant at the time among mass culture.
Arnold's approach to Connie was planned but he placed like an artistic jest with fallacies of philosophy. "Now, put your hand on your heart, honey. Feel that That feels solid too but we know better. Be nice to me, be sweet like you can because what else is there for a girl like you but to be sweet and pretty and give in-and get away before her people come back" (Oates, 388-9) or for that matter lines like "I'll have my arms tight around you so you won't need to try to get away and I'll show you what love is like, what it does. The hell with this house! It looks solid all right". (Oates, 388) It is evident from these words that the actual intention was to emulate the philosophical concept of the time but the situation and the intention was completely materialistic in nature.
No matter how much Arnold poses as a carefree beat and a nihilist by uttering unconventional and anti establishment ideas like "The place where you came from ain't there any more, and where you had in mind to go is cancelled out. This place you are ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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