What are some symbols from "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" that are important, and what are their true meanings?

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podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There's an interesting discussion of the symbolism of music on the following page:


In addition to this important symbol, I think there is another set of symbols that makes it clear how much of an imposter Arnold Friend is. Whether he is a satanic figure or just an older predatory man (the story has been read both ways by critics), there are several things that make it clear that things are not as they seem. His car is "a convertible jalopy painted gold," his crazy hair looks like a wig, he is dressed like a rock star, but at the same time he moves carefully and stands "in a strange way," as if his boots do not fit him. Oates tells us that "his feet [do] not go all the way down" in his boots," suggesting that perhaps Arnold may not have human feet, but wobbly hooves instead. He "pretend[s] to be relaxed," he looks like he has makeup on his eyelashes, and he has a face of a "forty-year-old baby." He does not speak in a normal voice, but rather with "the voice of the man on the radio" and in meaningless cliches with a "stage voice." He is not a person, only a disguise.

The disguise works, however. Connie, a sexually experienced girl who has given her body away plenty of times, allows Arnold to take over her mind as well.

naidita1 | Student

Charles "Smitty" Schmid raped and murdered 3 teenaged girls in the fall of 1965 in Tucson, AZ. He was:

* 23 years old.

* short & muslcular.

* wore pancake makeup.

* dyed his hair raven black.

* stuffed rags and folded cans in his boots to appear taller.

* cruised Tucson's Speedway Boulevard in a gold-colored car.

Oates knew of this story, and had said in an interview that she wrote the story after having done so.

This reference is thanks to C. Harold Hurley of Wesleyan College, and the full analysis can be read at www.csun.edu/loverman/355/essay4hurley.pdf

I hope this helps! =)

calanthe | Student

In the story Arnold is shown as a fake from his hair to feet to voice. if you see his name "ARNOLD FRIEND", Take away the "r" in his first name and separate the "an" and "old" you get "AN OLD FRIEND" which in the bible usually means the devil.Also with Ellie oscar, if you say his name it will probably sound like " A LIAR'S CAR" which is refers to Arnold. Ellie is really just an extra to make Arnold look better. If you look at the car it has a lot of symbols. The #'s for example, 33,19,17 means the book, chap,and verse in the bible, and if you add the 3's it equals to 6 and add the 17 and 19 then square root it, the 2 numbers you get is 6,6, put that together it will be 666 the devil's number. And the "Man THE FLYING SAUCERS" is a saying means something is foreign oor crazy.Arnold's also catches the light to make his eyes glow weird, remember that his is the devil, other wise know as Lucifer, who use to be the angel of light. It is like the story of Adam and Eve, when the the devil turns to a snake and makes Eve eat the forbidden fruit, That is what Arnold does to Connie.

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