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Lecture 11

ENG 1120 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Joyce Carol Oates, Charm Bracelet, Barbecue

Course Code
ENG 1120
Breid Mc Ilkenny

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Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?
February 26, 2016
Joyce Carol Oates, b.1938
- Graduated Syracuse University in 1960
Promoted North American authors
Began teaching at Princeton in the 1970s
- Tends to focus on middle/working classes in North America
Often set in Lockport, NY where she was raised; or in Detroit
Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?
- First published in 1966
- Described by Oates as “Physiological realism” and/or “realistic allegory”
- Was (partially) motivated by Bob Dylan & his song “It’s all Over Now Baby Blue”, as
well as the Charles Schmid killings
- Third person narrative, frequent movement from the real to the surreal
- Manipulation of symbolism
- Open-ended conclusion, allegory or realism?
- Connie doesn’t want to be like her mother
But there are a number of similarities between them
There is bitterness on both sides of the relationship
- June is 9 years older than Connie
- Father is very absent and disengaged
Goes to work, has dinner, and goes to bed
- Connie behaves one way at home, another way when she is out
Trying to discover/create her identity
Charm bracelet is a sign that she is still young, but the jingling attracts attention
- The burger bar is described as almost heavenly, but the flies hint at something darker
Flies are symbolic of death, pestilence, and Satan
There is a dark and predatorily aspect (circling cars)
Offers the girls a sense of false security
Heightened emotions as she leaves with Eddie
- Connie doesn’t want to go to the barbeque, would rather stay home alone
Typical teenager, thinks she’s too cool for all that
Doesn’t want to spend time with/see her (extended) family
Family doesn’t go to church, shows the disintegration of family
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