Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Women's Evolving Role in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" College

The 1950s brought about a multitude of changes in the culture of the United States: “conservative family values and morals were threatened as the decade came to a close” (Literature and Its Times). What was unthinkable in the 1940s gradually became the norm in the 1950s. In Joyce Carol Oates’ short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, the character Connie represents the clashing of these decades. Having survived World War II, Connie’s mother is still very supportive of the 1940s women’s roles mandated by the male dominated society and the media of the time. Connie, on the other hand, is steadily adopting the more feminist attitude of the time. After American soldiers returned from war, the continued progression of this feminist movement was hardly welcomed with open arms. Instead, women were expected to slip back into their “rightful” places. While some women resisted this regression, many felt obligated to take back up their kitchen mitts and their brooms. Connie’s character and her experiences symbolize this conflict between women and men, women and society, and women and themselves. Oates’s piece defines the scripted roles women had been traditionally occupying in American history, suggests where they are going...

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