An Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates' Short story 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2014

15 Pages, Grade: 3,0


Excerpt

Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates's short story Where are you going, where have you been? 3
2.1 Introduction to the tools used for the analysis
2.1.1 What makes a short story a Short story
2.1.2 What is 'Postmodernism' in literature
2.1.3 What is a 'Story of Initiation'
2.1.4 An Introduction to Genette's 'Narrative Perspectives'
2.2 Analysis of the short story
2.2.1 Characters
2.2.2 Narrative Perspectives
2.2.3 Female Story of Initiation
2.2.4 Postmodern features in the short story

3. Conclusion

Bibliography

1. Introduction

This paper deals with Joyce Carol Oates's short story Where are you going, where have you been?. Therefore, the following will be subdivided into two main parts. The first one is going to be an introductory one, in which every tool and term that is to be used will be spelled out and explained.

The first chapter is going to deal with the features of a short story. It is to be pointed out, what makes a short story a real Short-story and which features can be found in general.

In the second chapter, there is going to be an introduction to the literary postmodernism. Thus, an explanation of features characterizing the postmodernism as such is going to follow.

The third chapter is going to be an introduction to the story of initiation, in which its main elements and ideas are going to be presented and explained.

In the fourth and last chapter in this section, an approach on Genette's theories on narrative perspectives, as well as a suitable explanation for each one can be found.

The second part of the main section is going to consist of an analysis of Where are you going, where have you been? in terms of every above named aspect, as well as the approach of classifying the short story as a story of (female) initiation.

2. Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates's short story Where are you going, where have you been?

In this first section, every tool which is needed for the analysis of the short story is going to be explained, which means pointing out the key aspects and ideas, as well as the respective effects of every feature.

This includes an introduction to features of a short story, postmodernism, a story of initiation and Gerard Genette's narrative perspectives.

2.1 Introduction to the tools used for the analysis

2.1.1 What makes a short story a Short story

As already mentioned in the title of this paragraph, Where are you going, where have you been? is considered to be a short story. In the following paragraph, the key features and elements of a short story are going to be pointed out.

By mentioning the term 'short story', the first thing that comes to mind is automatically Edgar Allan Poe. According to him, one important element is brevity.

In one of his essays, in which he writes about the perfect length of a poem or a short story, he says that “[i]t appears evident, then, that there is a distinct limit, as regards length, to all works of literary art – the limit of a single sitting [.] for it is clear that the brevity must be in direct ratio of the intensity of the intended effect.“ (Poe 164) He also says that, „if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and every thing like totality is at once destroyed. “ (Poe 164) Totality here is a synonym for his 'unity of effects' and means the intended impression the story has on its reader, not only while reading, but also afterwards, which is destroyed when the reader gets, for whatever reason, interfered during his reading session.

Concerning this topic, James Cooper Lawrence says:

The limits to human patience are not very different today from what they were before the flood. A man will listen just so long to a story or read just so many pages and then the spell is broken; his mind demand a change of diet, and the effect of the story is lost. Every extraneous statement, every unnecessary word, must be eliminated in order to bring the tale within the bounds of patience.

This leads to the second feature of a short story: coherence.

Every detail in the story has to fit perfectly into the context in order to create the unity of effects as well as to hold the reader's attention focused on the story from the beginning to the end, and is therefore indispensable. To sum this up, Brander Matthews said that “[t]he construction must always be logical, adequate,[and] harmonious.” (Matthews 30).

According to Cooper Lawrence, “[...] every tale that fails to meet these fundamental requirements of brevity and coherence is not a true short story.” (274f).

Furthermore, “[...] the Short-story fulfills the three false unities of the French classic drama: it shows one action, in one place, on one day. A Short-story deals with a single character, a single event, a single emotion, or the series of emotions called forth by a single situation.” (Matthews 16).

One other feature, however, is that the story begins 'in medias res', which is Latin and means 'in the midst of things', without using a preface.

In addition, a short story should contain a limited number of characters, as well as an open and surprising end, which follows shortly after the climax.

Of course, these features are more of a guideline than a rule, which is the reason why a short story does not always contain every single feature.

2.1.2 What is 'Postmodernism' in literature

Joyce Carol Oates's short story Where are you going, where have you been? was published in 1966, which makes it to a work of postmodern literature. In the following, a short summary of some features of postmodern writing are going to be spelled out in order to make clear what the term 'postmodernism' actually means.

Postmodernism is a literary movement of post-1950s, a time marked by the cold war and the excesses of consumption. It differs from Modernism by blurring the conventional boundary [] by a completely loosened structure in both time and space, and by multiple openings rather than a closure. It rejects to conform to popular taste and combines heterogeneous elements, making it cater to a more sophisticated readership. (Writers History Literature Portal).

Characteristic for the postmodernism is the so called 'experimental literature'. This means that writers let go off the old-fashioned writing standards and began to experiment with style, plot order and form. Therefore, former, continuously used writing styles, as well as literary forms and ideas were put together and mixed up which led to completely new writing styles, including an open ending of the story.

Furthermore, the use of metafiction was intensified. The term 'metafiction' means that, throughout the whole story, the writer makes clear that the reader is dealing with a literary work, rather fiction than reality, which is done by alluding to its textuality. Therefore, a writer could write a story about how to create a literary work, or make his protagonist becoming aware of being part of a story.

[...]

Excerpt out of 15 pages

Details

Title
An Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates' Short story 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'
College
University of Würzburg  (Universität)
Course
The American Short Story in the 20th Century
Grade
3,0
Author
Year
2014
Pages
15
Catalog Number
V313289
ISBN (eBook)
9783668119697
ISBN (Book)
9783668119703
File size
387 KB
Language
English
Notes
15 Seiten, davon 12 Seiten Fließtext
Tags
analysis, joyce, carol, oates, short, where, going, have, been
Quote paper
Ann-Kathrin Beckenbauer (Author), 2014, An Analysis of Joyce Carol Oates' Short story 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?', Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/313289

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