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Where are You Going, Where Have You Been? is a daunting tale that explains the difficult path of travelling along the aching transitions of life. The author Joyce Carol Oates confessed being influenced by the weird story of a serial killing that made a deep impression on her so that she wrote this story that portrays the difficult moral choices in the path of adolescent boys and girls. The story being an allegory for tough moral decisions illustrates the painful story of moving along the transitions of life. The story says that decision making is difficult in modern times if you are cautious about the moralities of life.
It seems that the author is deeply driven by the fact that teenagers unintentionally and accidently are getting involved in criminal events as they immaturely handle the transitions in life. Even the adolescents from decent backgrounds are caught in this vicious circle as the criminals make use of teenagers to conceal their crime. The story is set in the time period when America witnessed an ideological and moral tumult. Those were the days when the American dream and the American chase for materialism was questioned from all possible social and moral angles. Joyce Carol Oates presents this story as a struggle between conventional morality and cruel modern hunts.
In the story the protagonist is fated to face the dead end as she encounters evil. Her inability to identify the right and safe paths makes her vulnerable to the deadly and painful realities of life. Misleading paths that the adolescents travel along push them to the cruel world of maturity. Connie is snatched from the safe world with her mother to a cruel world of adulthood. The adolescent who makes reckless moves jumps to a sexual maturity and dangerous freedom. She had to pay her life off by the time she learned the good lessons of life. She did finally understand how deadly it is to play with sexuality. This is the primary theme presented in the story. The story is an eye-opener for teenagers who are confronted with the difficult and decisive choices in life. This is also the story of victimization of the weaker sex in the male-dominated world. Men, the inhuman and immoral predators, make women their prisoners. In the story we find poor Connie in a miserable state where she had no way but to leave her house and join the domineering and spiteful man. Connie is so unfortunate to leave her mother's house to live with a cruel man who can never offer her a safe shelter.
I would personally call this story a life-changing literary work. This fiction can really work in the lives of the most vulnerable groups, teenagers. As I move along the pages I feel I am also a part of the story, one of the characters. I can see through the eyes of the teenagers. I do feel their immaturity, fear, frustration and agony. I know what makes a teenager wrongly value appearance more than his/her security. The fate of the protagonist however hit me in such a way that I became afraid of even the silliest exposure to sexuality and adulthood. It made me ponder my own life. This story is a wakeup call for adolescents who pass through the difficult phases in life where they have to make tough choices. The illusionary world of freedom and sexuality would only push them to the worst worlds from where they would never fetch away. Adolescent girls are cunningly tracked and intimidated for the worst. Male predators appear as loving and caring friends who finally transform into a cruel and threatening suitor. The story gives a wonderful lesson for teenagers to avoid the world of menacing male predators. The author of Where are You Going, Where Have You Been? is openly proclaiming “dear adolescents, run away from this cruel trap”. The story is indeed to change the lives of many.
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