What would be considered a clear, argumentative thesis statement based on Joyce Carol Oates' "Where are you going? Where have you been?" 

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A thesis should absolutely make an argument, and my recommendation is to always write a thesis that you believe to be true. It will be easier to defend and provide evidence for something that you believe in. Additionally, your reader will be able "hear" your passion regarding the argument.

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A thesis should absolutely make an argument, and my recommendation is to always write a thesis that you believe to be true. It will be easier to defend and provide evidence for something that you believe in. Additionally, your reader will be able "hear" your passion regarding the argument.

As for thesis format, I recommend a format that begins the thesis with a point that you intend to disprove. This allows you to admit to counter arguments that exist, yet your goal is to provide evidence as to why your argument is superior. Start this kind of thesis with the word "although," because it forces a two part statement.

In regards to this story, I would write a thesis that is a character analysis or a theme analysis. Connie and Arnold are both wonderful characters to analyze. They both clearly have different ideas about sex and sexuality, and that is a theme that you could explore as well. Additional possible themes could be violence or family.

I'm not sure how argumentative you would like your thesis to be, but I recommend writing a thesis topic that doesn't make your reader angry. Otherwise, this reader might keep reading, but he or she is likely to be against everything you write about. Some possible ways to go for the thesis are listed below.

  • Although Connie desires to be an adult, with all of the accompanying freedoms and sexuality, her interaction with Arnold Friend clearly shows that Connie is not ready.
  • Although Connie appears to very much dislike her mother, her attempted phone call shows just how attached Connie is to her mother.
  • Although Connie believes that she is an independent young woman, she is incapable of behaving that way in the presence of Arnold Friend.
  • Although Connie could be considered an innocent victim, her earlier actions show a different story.
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There are many topics to choose from in interpreting this story. It is based on an actual serial killer who preyed on teenage girls in Arizona in the 1960s. Using this as background information, it would be easy to show how it is a fictional interpretation of real historical events. But, it would be more interesting to consider metaphorical and allegorical interpretations of the story. 

Connie is a typical teenager. She goes to the mall with friends and is primarily interested in superficial things: how she looks, the latest popular music, and rebelling against her parents for any reason. Initially, she is portrayed as a superficial girl. She wants to be noticed and gazed at by other boys. She wants boys to tell her that she's pretty. We can blame this selfishness on Connie's vanity but we could also blame a society that has conditioned her to desire to be have this way. Society tells her to look pretty; otherwise, boys won't like her. So, despite her seemingly selfish behavior, she's also simply trying to be acknowledged by her male peers. As of yet, she doesn't really know another way to be. 

In short, Connie is superficial but she's also naive and doesn't yet understand her place (or woman's place) in the world. With all of that being said, you might go with a thesis that argues that when Connie walks out that door, she has awakened from that teenage, superficial daze into the harsh world of adult men and women. Innocence gone, she enters a world where some men still wield power over women. She enters into this unjust world suddenly. The potential violence implied by Friend's behavior underscores how sudden this awakening is. It is a harsh, unfair awakening. This is the argument: a harsh, unfair awakening into an unfair world. 

Now, based on the historical background mentioned earlier, it might sadly be the case that Connie is to be kidnapped, murdered, etc. But in addition to that Realist possibility, let's run with the metaphorical interpretation which is that Connie's innocence is lost. By leaving her house in this symbolic way, she enters into a world where women inevitably succumb to the desires of men. It is a world, unfortunately, where men are understood as predators and women are understood as prey. At this moment, Connie is alone in facing this. If only she had some answers, some belief system (such as feminism), then maybe she could break the cycle of women entering a world of men objectifying and dominating women. 

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