English / Comparing The Contrasting

Comparing The Contrasting

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Autor:  anton  25 June 2011
Tags:  Comparing,  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, �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 cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven” (1). The reader knows that these spiritual people in his life are very important figures and he views them as sinless, righteous people. Brown has a difficult time accepting original sin; that all men are sinful, despite their works on earth. Brown dreams of a Black Mass in Salem and each and every person he viewed as righteous took part in the evil communion. When Brown was in the dark forest, he heard the voices of Deacon Gookin and the minister, “Whither, then, could these holy men be journeying so deep into the heathen wilderness?” (4). This marks the beginning of Brown learning the reality of the sinful nature in each man, although each may appear to be holy. After hearing the voices, Brown became “faint and overburdened with the heavy sickness of his heart. He looked up to the sky, doubting whether there really was a heaven above him” (4).

However, this had not completely stolen his faith in God above and in man, until he heard familiar voices in the forest, one resembling a young woman. He screamed for Faith, until “something fluttered lightly down through the air and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon… �My Faith is gone!’ cried he” (5). These harsh realizations for Connie and Brown contrast each other in that Brown’s situation was a dream, he did not know that something like this actually happens. Whether Connie’s confrontation with Arnold Friend is a dream or real, it is that each main character came to know that one cannot read a book by its cover. The destruction of each character directly relates to the reality underneath the outward appearances of other characters.

Upon the destruction of Connie and Brown, the stories come to a close. Hawthorne ends “Young Goodman Brown” with total resolution, briefly describing Brown’s life and death. Hawthorne leaves nothing hanging in the air. However, Oates ended “Where Are You Going; Where Have You Been” with much ambiguity. It is up to the reader to decide whether Connie had fallen into a “trashy daydream” or if Arnold Friend was in fact a serial killer and/or rapist (Where 1). What is similar though, is that both Connie and Brown died. Connie’s death wasn’t literal like Brown’s, but she had died to herself because of Arnold’s manipulation, “She thought for the first time in her life that it was nothing that was hers, that belonged to her, but just a pounding, living thing inside this body that wasn’t really hers either” (Where 12). Connie let Arnold take over her, as Brown had let sin take over him.

These elements, point of view and theme, and each ending are almost nothing alike from a superficial aspect. The stories have different historical contexts and they simply don’t have much in common to the average audience. It is easy to contrast the stories, but deep within certain elements, the stories can be linked in several ways.

WORKS CITED

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” The Literature Network. 15 Mar. 2008 <http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/158/>

Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Celestial Timepiece. July 2007. U of San Francisco. 15 Mar. 2008. <http://jco.usfca.edu/works/wgoing/text.html>

"Themes and Construction: 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'." EXPLORING Short Stories. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Gale. Bismarck State College Library. 15 Mar. 2008 <http://find.galegroup.com/ips/start.do?prodId=IPS>.

"Themes and Construction: 'Young Goodman Brown'." EXPLORING Short Stories. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Gale. Bismarck State College Library. 28 Mar. 2008 <http://find.galegroup.com/ips/start.do?prodId=IPS>.



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