Joyce Carol Oates – Freedom and Confinement

Freedom and confinement are the right and limits to act, speak and think whatever you desire. No one wants to be kept within bounds. Freedom is a sacred and inalienable right that all human beings possess. It is the power to act according to its will, while respecting the law and the rights of others. Freedom to do so without hindrance or restraint. In Joyce Carol Oates’ short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”, she makes a masterful mix of literal freedom and figurative confinement. She depicts a teenager’s distorted views of sexuality, vanity, and the dangers that come with it.

The story is heavy with thematic confinement. Connie isolates herself from her family and waits for a prince to come save her. Connie portrays herself to be very sexual but she doesn’t know what sexuality is. Connie’s terror is often described through the feel of confinement or imprisonment. Her home is both her haven and her prison: it protects her against Arnold at the same time that it traps her. Connie is associated with prison of the boring lives of her mother and her sister and outside the home lies the promise of some kind of freedom. Connie’s actions and perceptions don’t seem to suggest the exercise of free will.Arnold brings the vehicle that will lead Connie into thinking she is an independent adult when it only exposes her childish renegade motives. This metaphor expresses the vagueness of her dreams while also representing the unknown. Connie’s search for independence has a brutal outcome. When Arnold Friend arrives and interacts with her as the mature woman she has pretended to be, he pulls her out of her vanity and places her firmly into an adult world. The world where no one will rescue her.By crossing the threshold, Connie chooses to save her family. In a situation of violence suggests that there is always a possibility for freedom, even in desperation. In Bob Dylan’s song”It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”we see h…

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