Symbolism of Colour in Beloved

Colour makes its appearance at crucial points in the novel; giving the narrative an additional dimension. The carmine coloured velvet that Amy Denver is going to buy from Boston, symbolizes her quest for a hopeful and bright future, whereas the “red heart” of Paul D signifies feelings and emotions. The colour red symbolizes both life and death. For instance, the red roses lining the path to the carnival, denote the beginning of a new life for Sethe, 65

Denver and Paul D. But the colour red has strong associations with death; Beloved’s blood, mixed with Sethe’s milk that Denver drinks. The red rooster roaming free while Paul D. is chained, makes him go insane. It is a reminder of the freedom that is denied to him. When Paul D enters 124 for the first time, he sees a red pool of light, the baby ghost. Stamp Paid cannot wipe out the memory of a red ribbon he found floating in the Ohio river, with the hair and scalp attached to it; a disturbing image of young lives lost in a bid to escape slavery.

Sethe’s memory is filled with the red colour of her daughter’s blood and the pink mineral of her gravestone. After burying her daughter, she stops noticing colours around her. When Baby Suggs is confined to bed, she complains of the lack of colour around her. Sethe puts two orange patches on her patchwork quilt. When Beloved first comes to 124, she wants those two orange patches in her sight, when she is recovering in bed. Colour could symbolize joy in life. These former slaves have had little of it. When Sethe leaves her job, she stitches colourful dresses for her daughters, to express her love. She wants to show the beautiful colours of nature; in vegetables, in flowers, to Beloved.

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