Oates has called her story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" a "realistic allegory." What are the allegorical elements in the story?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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An allegory occurs when the author creates double meaning within her story; there is the literal interpretation of what happens, but also a figurative or symbolic interpretation.  The allegory in Oates' story deals with the loss of innocence and temptation; in many ways, her story is a retelling of the 'Garden of Eden' story:  Connie, the young virginal girl, meets up with the ultimate bad guy, Arnold Friend, who just might be Satan in a slick disguise.  He tempts her away from her home, and whatever may happen, she will never return (just as Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit forced her exit from her home in the Garden of Eden). 

In "Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?", Joyce Carol Oates uses Connie's story to retell the classic coming of age story with a hardened edge; Connie meets Arnold Friend, a forceful, corruptive influence, who in the end takes Connie away to her death and an end of innocence. 


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