Religious Symbolism in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”

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John Capra English Comp II Hugo Dos Santos June 20, 2011 Religious Symbolism in “Where are you going, where have you been” Often times writers use symbols to help identify characters, settings, and themes within a story. While some people may believe that the plot of Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you going, where have you been” is solely based on the story of convicted murderer Charles Schmid, the writing used by Oates throughout the story makes it easy to see how religious symbolism shapes the plot of the story. From the beginning of the story, we meet Connie, a shallow teenager who seems to have some resentment toward her mother because of her mother’s favoritism to Connie’s older sister June. Oates illustrates this when she writes, “If June's name was mentioned her mother's tone was approving, and if Connie's name was mentioned it was disapproving. This did not really mean she disliked Connie, and actually Connie thought that her mother preferred her to June just because she was prettier…” (383). Despite Connie’s continued portrayal as a rebellious teenager, in the final scene of “Where are you going” is when we begin the see the similarities between Connie and Eve of Genesis. In the final scene, Arnold approaches Connie alone without her family and her friends. Likewise, in the story of Adam and Eve, Eve is initially approached by Satan when she is without Adam. What about how Arnold speaks to Connie? He speaks fast and as Oates states, “He spoke in a simple lilting voice, exactly as if her were reciting the words to a song” (385) captivating Connie. Eve, while in the Garden of Eden, was also captivated by a serpent who spoke in a silky voice. At the time this story was written, the 60s, music was much about youth and rebellion. Sex, love, and rock and roll, right? But as Connie is wandering through the Big Boy parking lot, in
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