Where Are You Going Where Have You Been Thesis

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Alluding to a former directionless high official, Henry Kissinger, statesman, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and former Secretary of State said,

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there."

It is interesting that part of the title of Joyce Carol Oates's story contains one of Kissinger's phrases: where you are going. For, Connie, the main character,certainly does not know where she is going at the story's end and she travels down a road--any road--to an unknown destination. Immersed in her "trashy daydreams" and lured by the music on the radio, Connie finds the lines between reality and her sensual reveries blurring until she is caught between the two worlds by Arnold Friend and is seduced by his music and lyricism into his car where he takes her away after telling her,

"Yes, I'm your lover.  You don't know what that is, but you will,"

One thesis statement that can be formulated, then, pertains to the character development of Connie, who does not seem to be aware of the paths that she takes. For, "[E]verything about her had two sides to it, one when she was at home and one for anywhere that was not home. But, each is as directionless as the other, for the parents are not actively engaged in the life of Connie. Certainly, the challenge of the question applies to them as much as to their daughter, as well. When they lead not their daughter, Connie knows not in what she is engaged, nor where she is headed as she is directed by sinister forces.

Lured by her trashy daydreams and lack of responsibility to her family, Connie finds herself on a path to which she knows not where she has been, nor where she is going, nor who she is.