September 13, 2014
Symbolism: Representing Ideas
When writing a story, there are many literary techniques available for a writer to employ in order to get his or her point across. These styles can include anything from metaphors, imagery, metonymy, and symbolism. While all can be effective, when used correctly, symbolism allows an author the opportunity to strengthen his or her work while progressively allowing components of the story to accumulate abstract meaning. Two stories that make great use of this technique are "Where are you going, Where have you been?" and "The Yellow Wallpaper." Both use it to not only tell the story, but to enhance it.
In "Where are you going, Where have you been?" one element that is pervasively present is music. The narrator even takes note of this, stating "The music was always in the background, like music in a church service, it was something to depend on" (Oates).
For Connie, music is symbolic of her feelings of sex and boys. As she deals with Arnold, everything about him is musical, down to the way he talks. To her, he speaks to her "as if he were reciting the words to a song" (Oates). Joyce Carol Oates is able to use music for a multitude of arcs, such as sexual desire, psychological manipulation, and as representative of popular culture.
Another example of symbolism lies within the home in which Connie tries to take refuge from Arnold. In a way, the home is a part of the vulnerability of her body in a male-dominated society. While this might be an interesting theory as the story goes on and Arnold rips at her "vulnerability" it is just like the home in which she is trapped. He is able to...