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Author Study: Joyce Carol Oates Curated by Isabel Cheng '18

The life, work, and analysis of Joyce Carol Oates

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is one of Oates' most prominent pieces of work. Her dark style is evident in this piece, as the story goes from the life of a teenage girl to her abduction by a sexual predator. Through her stylistic elements, Oates is able to highlight the darkness that underlies middle-America. 

Overall: Oates does not use excessive stylistic flourishes, allowing the events and images to stand out more clearly, helping her create an ominous tone when she details the abduction of Connie. This was juxtaposed with the casual tone that was used to describe Connie’s everyday life, from her relationship with her family to her daydreams about boys. Because of Oates’ descriptions she is able to successfully remind the reader of the widespread violence in everyday life; they feel the same emotions as Connie as she transforms from a normal teenager to an abduction victim. Like Walter Sullivan noted, “horror resides in the transformation of what we know best, the intimate and comfortable details of our lives made suddenly threatening”. 

Transition of Tone/Syntax: