Is there any symbolism in Ellie Oscar's name in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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lnorton | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Although it is easy to discover that "Arnold Friend" can be easily read as "An Old Friend" (that is, as a reference to the devil), "Ellie Oscar" is a bit more difficult to analyze. There is not unified critical agreement in regards to the meaning of this character's name, but we can be sure that Oates intended for the name to be meaningful, because of the symbolic meaning found in the story's names, number combinations, physical descriptions, etc. Here are some of the ways in which we might interpret Ellie's name:

1. Ellie as "Ally." If Arnold Friend is the Fiend, then Ellie is his ally, or friend/sidekick.

2. Ellie as "Eli," which is a biblical reference.

3. Ellie as short for "Elvis" -- this is particularly interesting if we see the story as representative of a teenager's experience with the dangers of adulthood. The pair are rock-and-roll personified. Rock-and-roll can seem glamorous and fun, but can lead to dangerous things.

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Ellie Oscar, the strange and silent man who accompanies Arnold Friend to Connie's house, has a name that seems ambiguous and hard to pin down. His first name sounds traditionally feminine, and it seems to indicate that he is using a false identity. He wears sunglasses, and it is impossible for Connie to get a read on what Ellie is thinking. Ellie's first and last names bring together typically feminine and masculine names in a way that might appeal to Arnold Friend and his cronies, as they are clearly interested in finding (and possibly harming) younger women and girls. The name "Oscar" has many connotations. First, it calls to mind the glamour of the Academy Awards, often referred to as the Oscars. Ellie aims for this type of glamour, and it also recalls Ellie Oscar's association with Arnold's car, which is part of the facade Ellie hides behind.

zxcvzxcv012's profile pic

zxcvzxcv012 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Female name: Diminutive of Ellen: A variant of the Greek Helen, meaning shining light, or most beautiful woman.

Hebrew: God is perfection, God is my oath,bright one, shining one, 

Germanic: of a noble kind.

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ri0jbb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Ellie: Pronounced "He Lie"

Oscar: Award for a great performer

vickibry's profile pic

vickibry | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

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1.      During our debate in class, someone said they looked it up and found that Ellie meant Lord of the flies.

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