Short Story Analysis: 'Where Are You Going Where Have You Been?' by Joyce Carol Oates

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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Introduction Joyce Carol Oates's short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" was first published in the literary journal Epoch in 1966. The story is about beginnings and the rites of passage. This work is an illustration of a coming of age story, also known as an initiation story. In such stories, the protagonist undergoes an important rite of passage, transformation, an experience of transition, usually from childhood to adulthood, or from innocence to experience. The story focuses on that turning point, that trial, or the passage from one state to the other. The story is about a fifteen-year-old girl named Connie, a pretty girl who is in the middle of a rebellious adolescence. She alienates herself from her family, preferring to spend her time with her friends at the local restaurant looking for boys. She enjoys the popular music of the day and tries to appear older and sophisticated beyond her years when away from her home. In many ways she is a typical teenager caught between adolescence and adulthood: "Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home: her walk, which could be childlike and bobbing, or languid enough to make anyone think she was hearing music in her head; her mouth, which was pale and smirking most of the time, but bright and pink on these evenings out; her laugh, which was cynical and drawling at home "Ha, ha, very funny," but high pitched and
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