Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Many philosophers look at life and try to figure out exactly who they are by dynamically analyzing where they have been. Then there are others who look at their lives as a constant journey to get somewhere in the future. Joyce Carol Oates wrote this tale in the 1960’s as a tribute to Bob Dylan and claimed to be influenced by the legendary folk singer to the point of creation. This is the story about how a girl should behave in their life. It is the story of two sisters and what life brings for them. This has become a classic American tale which shares the feminist view of the time it was written.


This is a story that describes a significant search for independence by a young girl and as she works to find her way through growing up, there are a lot of mixed messages. She learns to dress in a manner that is appealing to boys yet Connie, the main character does not want to be pursued by older men. That is exactly the attention that she does get.

Who hasn’t looked to the past to figure out if our mistakes and experiences are so defining that we can never overcome them? The missteps of our lives tend to be magnified in a manner that only we see and any hope of overcoming them and becoming successful in the future is doubtful at best. It seems that all people have to look to deal with their past in order to move toward their future. The past needs to be put behind you in order to move forward. It is also a tale of sexual abuse and strange roles of women and men during that period in history.


The Story of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, is a defining literary piece that has gained recognition as a story about growing up and the feminist movement as well. As the roles of women have changed over the years, women have gained a lot more social freedom as they have learned from where they have been in order to take them where they are going. Many English students have been assigned this reading in order to explain the years of the 1960’s, but this Joyce Carol Oates creation seems to be lacking in delivering a whole lot of substance. Although it may have resonated with her, it does not resonate with everyone.

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