Essay Where Are You Going Where Have You Been

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Later, in her teens, she read Emily Dickinson and the Brontës, and still later, Flannery O’Connor.

Although their own education had been cut short by the Depression, her parents, Frederic and Carolina Oates, were both devoted readers who supported their daughter’s emerging intellectual and literary gifts.

Having their own press gives them the power to sponsor other writers, artists, and translators as well as to publish some of Oates’s own work.

Oates also writes fiction under the pseudonym “Rosamond Smith.” The move to Princeton inaugurated a new, more public phase of her career.

Inspired by a magazine story about a teenage killer in Arizona, it was first published in the literary magazine (1985), edited by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar; and Oates has drawn attention to the centrality of the story in her literary development by using it as the overall title of two collections of her short stories: gives us the opportunity to see how the literary imagination transforms raw material into art, and to understand these different genres and texts as related but autonomous works.

Oates has described her many stories and novels as “tributaries flowing into a single river”; so it is not surprising that “Where Are You Going” should contain many elements that have been characteristic in her work, including the blurring of realism and the supernatural, and the effort to bear witness “for those who can’t speak for themselves.” The story also takes up troubling subjects that have continued to occupy her in her fiction: the romantic longings and limited options of adolescents, especially girls; the sexual victimization of women; the psychology of serial killers; and the American obsession with violence.Among the four hundred short stories that Joyce Carol Oates has published during her career, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” remains the best known, most anthologized, and most widely discussed.Schmid’s story attracted a great deal of attention during a period when teenage runaways, the evils of rock and roll, and adolescent sexuality were much debated in the news, and before the American public had become numbed by stories of serial killers.Readers were fascinated by the way Schmid had modelled himself on his idol, Elvis Presley, and by his self-dramatizing lies.But the teenage girls he entranced and murdered are much less colorful characters in the news stories.Such girls were the other side of the American fantasies of the early 1960s—the Barbie dolls, Gidgets, and groupies of the years just before the women’s movement.Oates, however, turned the familiar story of the serial killer inside-out by taking the victim as her protagonist, and by taking her seriously. mistakes death for erotic romance of a particularly American/trashy sort.” But as the story developed, she became more interested in its “moments of grace”—the “dramatic turn of action” at the end, “when the presumably doomed Connie makes a decision to accept her fate with dignity and to spare her family’s involvement in this fate.” “At the end of the story,” she has commented, “Connie transcends her Connie-self—her merely local, teenage, American self.Her sense of what is tragic in Connie’s “trashy dreams,” and what is heroic in her fate, is typical of her compassion for the women often rendered silent and inarticulate in American society. So, confronted with death, we are obliged to be equal to it. To merely sexualize the story trivializes it.” In the 1960s and 1970s, “Where Are You Going” was most frequently read by critics as an allegory of good and evil, with Arnold Friend as a satanic figure.She was given a typewriter by her grandmother when she was fourteen, and began to train herself “by writing novel after novel.” But Oates won all the school prizes, including a New York State Regents Scholarship to Syracuse University.There she devoured philosophy and literature, especially Nietzsche, Kafka, and Faulkner, and graduated class valedictorian, At this stage of her life, Oates was planning to become an English professor; she entered graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where she met and married another student, Raymond Smith. made me want to write directly about the serious social concerns of our time.”, which reflects the apocalyptic sensibility of the period, received the National Book Award in 1970.


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