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The Power of Symbols in Literature

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Every human has a desire. Whether it is to win the geography bee or to be the richest man in America, desires have been something people have always wanted, but sometimes, if not all the time, they take drastic actions to achieve those desires. Whether it is as bad as killing a man or as good as making a public library, people make these things to achieve their desires. Symbols in literature are manifested through a character’s wants.

In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Oates writes about Arnold Friend’s desire to become Connie’s boyfriend which makes him more of a cunning man. When Arnold comes to Connie’s house, Arnold tries convincing Connie to come in his car “Don’tcha wanta see what’s on the car? Don’tcha wanta go for a ride?”. Arnold keeps on using more examples of trying to deceive Connie to be his girlfriend by trying to be charming through his words and his lilting voice because his desire was to have Connie be his girlfriend. Connie described him & his voice as “He spoke in a simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song. His smile assured her that everything was fine”. In this description, Connie describes how Arnold Friend has a charisma over her and that she likes how he talks and what he does. Arnold Friend does this in order to win Connie and does a lot in order for her to be Connie’s boyfriend. Desires make people work hard in order to make that desire become reality, and Oates described Friend as a cunning man because she wanted Arnold to be characterized as the devil because of his ways to persuade Connie, like how Satan persuades humans to do sin.

Symbols in literature have often been found through a person’s desires. After all, desires are what dictate what people say or do as seen in “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?”In literature, symbols have always been manifested through a person’s desires whether it was as evil as killing a man or establishing a public library. All humans have wanted a desire in life, and they often take drastic actions to make those desires become reality.  

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