Conventions of Psychoanalysis in "Where are you going, Where have you been" by Joyce Carol Oates

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, September 1996

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The story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" by Joyce Carol Oates is truly littered with conventions of Psychoanalysis. Freud developed a list of defense mechanisms used by the human subconscious in order to deal with issues too intense for the conscious mind. These strategies of the psyche are translated into symbols scattered throughout this work. These symbols are expressed through the characters of Connie, and Arnold Friend.

The first convention is denial. Denial is when the subconscious cannot handle an issue or event and forces the individual to falsify reality and flatly refuse to accept it. Denial rears its head in several places in this story. The first occurrence is Connie's father's denial of the possibility of mischief in his budding adolescent fifteen year old. Most adults(especially parents) know what it means to be a teenager, so it seems odd that Connie's father does not take more interest in her Friday night goings-on.

Instead of asking questions and probing into the situation he chooses to stay complacent about it thereby avoiding a confrontation with her and also avoiding having to deal with issues of her newly found sexuality and the circumstances surrounding it.

The most obvious example of denial falls in the lap of Connie herself. Connie is prone to deny the possibility of danger in the confrontation with Arnold Friend. This could be out of need for acceptance as she does not receive the attention a young girl entering adulthood requires.

Another convention explored in this work is repression. Repression is defined as the mind essential strategy for hiding desires and fears. It is the fact that Connie is denied the attention at home that causes her to seek it through the only other outlet she understands at the that age...her sexuality. Obviously, the...