Oleanna Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Oleanna Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


From time to time, John takes down notes that come to mind. In this play, the notepad is a symbol of his belief that everything he thinks is of heightened importance. So important, in fact, that he stops mid-conversation with Carol to write down these thoughts.


The final scene of the play sees John's anger and thirst for power manifest in the form of beating Carol in his office. This is a symbol that he has no control over the way he acts and is governed by his feelings, which is dangerous.

Closed Doors

John and Carol meet in his office behind a closed door. This is a symbol that they are in the dangerous territory of not being in the classroom, where instruction occurs and thus the opportunity to cross boundaries is more apt to occur.

John's Book

John will not yield to Carol and her group's demand to ban his book from the reading list at the school. This is a symbol that he believes that what he has written, what he has to say, is bigger than his job or tenure in that it will be passed down to his son. And, if he doesn't stand for it, his voice, his teaching will be deemed garbage and no one, including his son will read it let alone live by it.


John answers his telephone throughout the play. It is a symbol of how what happens behind closed doors can affect one's entire life.

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