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Color in Literature

  • Date Submitted: 06/03/2013 05:54 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 67.8 
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Jack Ferrone
Ms.   Giese
American Lit

Analytical Paper – Rough Draft
Gold, yellow, red, white and grey, all ordinary colors used to illustrate something meaningful.   Authors often use color to symbolize something of greater importance.   Edith Wharton uses grey to show the dreariness of Starkfield and its citizens.   Gold and yellow are used by Willa Cather in O Pioneers to symbolize wealth and happiness.   Ethan Frome and O Pioneers both have a very good use of symbolism.  
Happiness, youth, vitality and life are symbolized the color red in Ethan Frome.   The color red is first mentioned when it is describing Mattie’s scarf.   Mattie is portrayed as a happy, young lady, which is why Wharton associates her with the color red.   Red also has some negative significance.   Red symbolizes sin, Ethan is married to Zeena but is tempted my Mattie.   Whether positive or negative, red sticks out in the bleak community of Starkfield the same way Mattie sticks out in Ethan’s depressing life.
In O Pioneers Willa Cather uses white to symbolize youth and innocence.   After Emil and Marie die at Frank’s hands two white butterflies are seen fluttering above their bodies.   The butterflies are white because Marie and Frank were both innocent people.   The butterflies represented their spirits leaving their bodies.   Also they died under a white mulberry tree, again it represents innocence, but the white mulberry tree actually represents a lot of things.   In Greek mythology two lovers were killed underneath a white mulberry tree, so the way Cather uses it is fitting.   It also sometimes referred to as the tree of life, which is ironic because two people were killed underneath it.
Grey is a dreary color used to symbolize Zeena and the town of Starkfield.   Zeena is a dark, dismal character and grey suits her well.   The whole town is often dark, gloomy and grey.   “Her high-boned face taking a grayish tinge from the whiteness of the pillow”.   This shows that Zeena is a negative and...


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