Comparing Greasy Lake and Where Are You Going and Where Have You Been

When reading “Where are you going and where have you been” by Joyce Carol Oates and “Greasy lake” by T. Coraghessan Boyle you can see that there are a lot of similarities when it comes to these two short stories. Both protagonistі in the story play just about the same role when talking about the coming of age theme. They both fulfill expectations of the coming of age genre when they go throughout the stories of rebellion and self-realization thus becoming more mature and leaving their immature self’s behind. Still, there are also a lot of differences throughout the stories that make impact both characters differently. The theme that plays a big role in both the stories is violence. In “Where are you going where have you been” the violence sexual because Arnold friend (who is an older man) is trying to manipulate Connie who young and beautiful. Her being to young a clueless about what she is doing she decides to go with him so he can “show her what love is like” and its unknown after that as to what happens to her. In “Greasy lake” the violence also is sexual due to the fact that the boys basically gang raped this girl based off his toenails along with two other women towards the end of the story throwing themselves at the boys. Although they both involve sexual violence, they differ from each other because in “Greasy lake” she is oblivious to the fact that she was going to be sexually harassed and was to immature to see what was happening and that her giving off signals because her hormones were raging was a bad idea. In “Where are you going where have you been” the boys are the ones doing the harassing and being manipulative to try and get the girl to take advantage of her. Another thing to compare is symbolism. They both represent freedom within the stories. In Greasy lake” the lake and the island represent the freedom because it’s the only place where they can feel free and not be judged by anyone.

As a teenager that’s all you ever want is to feel free and do whatever you please. Independence plays a big part throughout both stories. In where are you going where have you been” the car represents the freedom. When Arnold Friend offers to take Connie for a ride he is looking to take control because typically the man rides in the drivers seat and the woman drives in the passenger seat which means that’s the man is in control of the car, thus Arnold is in control of the way things are going to happen and how she does things. The car also symbolizes as it being in disguise just like Arnold Friend. The contrast between these two is that the car is just an object. It’s not actually taking them to freedom or by having the car it’s giving them freedom. It’s just showing because he is in control of the car and that he is the one who is older and smarter in his own twisted way he is able to take advantage of Connie because he can tell her where to go what to do and she wont doing anything about it because she likes him and doesn’t find out what kind of guy he is until the end of the story. The lake takes them to a little sanctuary away from there parents and reality and allows them to be whoever they think they are or want to be. The last comparison is between the two main characters. In “Where are you going where have you been” Connie is not accepted at home by her mother. Her mother wants her to be more like her sister and help clean and do things around the house. When Connie goes out in public, she wants to act like someone else trying to dress different at the mall to get guys to notice her and basically show out. The same goes for in “Greasy lake” when the narrator or the unknown character is trying to be someone he is not as well. He and his friends Digby and Jeff who are privileged middle class kids who get everything handed to them by their parents try to act tough or act “bad” by wearing sunglasses inappropriately and taking there parents car to go out to the greasy lake and having things go badly in the end. He tries to come off as he doesn’t really care about the consequences but really, he does and he’s nervous about what kind of trouble they could get into. The difference between the two characters is that in the end they both realize that what they are becoming isn’t a good thing. In “Where are you going where have you been” Connie realizes that her cations from before trying to get boys to notice her isn’t paying off because now she’s with Arnold in a lot of trouble of being seduced and taken advantage of because of her age and immaturity. In “Greasy lake” the nameless character realizes after taking advantage of multiple woman and the murder that being “bad” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and that he wants to change his ways and not follow the friend crowd any longer. In conclusion, both of the short stories have a lot of different similarities and differences.

I would think that they are both well written by T. Coraghessan Boyle and Joyce Carol Oates did a great job showing what it’s like to find yourself and again portraying the becoming of age theme. They both had similar characters, themes and symbolized on the same topics to show that. However, they did have different outcomes based on the characters actions and the different settings with the story. The different gender roles played a big part on the outcome of each story and had an effect for the opposite gender.

10 December 2020
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