29 January 2018
The definition of symbolism is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning. Gilman and Oates present the reader with symbolism to represent different aspects of the story. In these short stories, many of the objects and people in the story indicate a different or underlying meaning to them.
In the short story, “Where are you going, Where have you been?” one of the main characters has a significant underlying symbol attached to himself. Arnold Friend represents a much darker and deeper character and motive. Arnold represents the Devil. Throughout the story, Arnold is trying to manipulate Connie into doing something that she doesn’t want to do. At the drive in Arnold is waving his finger saying, “Gonna get you, baby”(Oates 581). Another depiction that the story indicates that Arnold is the devil is through is boots. Connie notices Arnold standing awkwardly when he gets out of the car trying to keep his balance and not to fall. This could indicate hooves, as such the devil is known to have. Connie also notices that his boots are way too big for him as well. This indicates that Arnold does not have regular feet but has feet like the devil, non-human. As we know the devil possesses supernatural powers. Arnold presents these powers by telling Connie exactly what her parents are doing, where they are at and what they look like. How would Arnold know any of this information with ought fully knowing these characters is impossible. “Arnold Friend’s ability to foresee things are supernatural powers available to him due to his wickedness. He seems to know exactly what her parents are doing at the barbeque. He even tells Connie that her mother is with a fat woman, husking corn” (Interpretation). Finally, one last example of symbolism in the story is the home and the screen door in which Connie is in. To everyone, or at least myself, home is a place of safety. You should feel safe in your own home and that’s exactly what Connie was trying to do. Arnold was trying to get her out of her comfort zone and out of the house through manipulation. As discussed earlier how Arnold is the devil, readers can clearly see how in fact he represents the devil. The devil appears through deceiving as we can tell from Arnold wanting to “take a ride” and temptation. All characteristics of Arnold symbolizing the devil.
Gilman, like Oates, presents the reader with symbolism throughout the story of “The Yellow Wallpaper”.
Works CitedKiszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1997. Oates, Joyce Carol “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”…Kirszner and Mandell, 579-591.
“Interpretation.” Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, 10 Aug. 2011, aylencontreras.wordpress.com/interpretation-2/.