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Color In Karen Russell's Haunting Olivia

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In literature, color sets the stage for emotion. Although often overlooked, the symbolism associated with color represents the other characters or moods of the story. A story by Karen Russell, “Haunting Olivia” tells the tale of two brothers, Timothy and Wallow, looking for the body of their younger sister, Olivia, who met her death at sea. From marina misbehavior to Glow Worm Grotto, their journey is flooded with colors that represent their circumstances. Symbolism with color fills the story, and the author’s particular use of pink goggles, cerulean eyes and blue fish showcases the boys’ feelings towards their sister, as well as aspects of Olivia herself. Russell depicts symbolism through color in her story early on. First, in paragraph two, the “diabolical goggles” are introduced. In scavenging a marina for Olivia’s body, the boys came across a pair of goggles that “were designed…show more content…
According to Timothy, “[o]ne of the fish swims right up and taps against my scratchproof lenses” (page #). In literature, the color blue can represent the sea as well as tranquility and heaven (Parker). Given Olivia’s love for the ocean, the blue fish symbolizes her love for the ocean. In death, she finds the ocean to be her tranquil home, her physical heaven. Olivia’s symbolism through the blue fish is also prevalent through blue’s symbolism of loyalty and trust. If the fish is Olivia, its loyalty and trust are evident through its tapping on the goggles, where she is showing Timothy that she appreciates his rescue attempts, but his services simply aren’t needed any longer. Finally, in literature’s classic context of the color, blue represents sadness. Since Glow Worm Grotto is the last possible place near the island that Olivia’s body could be found, the lack of a corpse for the brothers could result in sadness and a feeling of towards the locating of
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