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Comparing The Contrasting

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Comparing the Contrasting

Written two centuries apart, “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “Where Are You Going; Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates are two seemingly different stories. However, if looked at closely, several elements can be tied together. Each story has a similar point of view, but the story is told from two different perspectives. Several themes are unique to the stories, but deep within similarities can be found. The authors conclude their stories in two different ways, but the endings are somewhat the same. These two stories contain elements that are obviously contrasting, yet comparable at the same time.

Having each story been written in a third-person narrative form, the reader knows the innermost feelings of the protagonists and watches the main characters change. The reader learns what Brown feels as he thinks to himself, “What a wretch I am to leave her on such an errand!” In “Where Are You Going,” the narrator supplies much of Connie’s feelings, such as in the first paragraph, “she knew she was pretty and that was everything.” However, in Young Goodman Brown, “point of view swings subtly between the narrator and the title character. As a result, readers are privy to Goodman Brown’s deepest, darkest thoughts, while also sharing an objective view of his behavior” (Themes and Construction: Young 2). Point of view of “Young Goodman Brown” contrasts with that of “Where Are You Going” because “This narrative voice stays closely aligned to Connie’s point of view” (Themes and Construction: Where 2). Despite the subtle contrast, both points of view allow the reader to see the changes in Brown and Connie; Brown loses his faith and Connie loses herself. Point of view also affects how the reader sees other characters. The reader only sees her mother, father, June and Arnold Friend as Connie sees them. The characters of Young Goodman Brown are viewed as the narrator describes them, whether that is how Brown sees them or not. The antagonists of the stories, who are seemingly evil characters, are interpreted differently because of the narration, thus creating ambiguity in the nature of the antagonists.

In “Where Are You Going,” the appearance of characters and situations is told by the narrator from Connie’s perspective. However, in “Young Goodman Brown,” the narrator speaks from an objective stance, while Brown reveals the appearance of people and situations through dialogue. A theme of “Where Are You Going” is appearance vs. reality (Themes and Construction: Where). This theme can also be found throughout the story of “Young Goodman Brown.” After Eddie takes Connie out for awhile one night when Connie and her friends went out on one of their usual nightly visits to town, she became even more prideful of her ability to attract boys and flirt. Already, she was “craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was alright… she knew she was pretty and that was everything” (Oates 1). Her appearance was everything.

Once Arnold Friend unexpectedly arrives to Connie’s house, “her fingers snatched at her hair, checking it, and she whispered, вЂ?Christ. Christ,” wondering how bad she looked” (3). Connie thought she recognized the mysterious man in the driver’s seat, the kind of guy she is used to attracting. She saw his hair as “shaggy, shabby black hair… crazy as a wig” (3). He slipped out of the car, the narrator tells that, “Connie liked the way he was dressed, which was the way all of them dressed: tight faded jeans stuffed into black scuffed boots, a belt that pulled

his waist in and showed how lean he was, and a white pull-over shirt that was a little soiled and showed the hard small muscles of his arms and shoulders” (5). All of these descriptions attribute to this particular theme in “Where Are You Going,” Connie just sees him as a boy that is attracted to her and wants to take her out, like any boy would. But as Arnold continues talking and moving, his false identity is starting to unravel. It all starts when Arnold says, “I know your name and all about you, lots of things” (5). Although slightly difficult for Connie to digest, it wasn’t enough to stop her from talking to him. However, until she asks him how old he is, “His smile faded. She could see then that he wasn’t a kid, he was much older---thirty, maybe more. At this knowledge her heart began to pound faster” (7). This marks the beginning of the dismantling of the appearance of Arnold Friend and the seemingly innocent conversation into the reality that Connie is faced with an imposter and his evil intentions.

Goodman Brown is a young husband and a devout Puritan. Brown claims that he and his family “have been a race of honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs” (Hawthorne 2). Certain townspeople around Salem, such as Goody Cloyse, Deacon Gookin, and the minister, are all respected people in Brown’s life, “[Goody Cloyse] who had taught him his catechism in youth, and was still his spiritual adviser, jointly with the minister and Deacon Gookin” (3). An important doctrine of Puritanism, and Christianity, is that man, by nature, is sinful and cannot escape sin but by the grace of God. Along with Puritanism is the idea of Predestination, before the creation of man, God selected some men to be sent to heaven, and the some damned to hell and one is to live a righteous life in case he is one of those in God’s plan to rise into heaven after death. His wife, Faith, is important to him because he believes she is one of those who is going to heaven, “she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I’ll


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