The color black symbolizes the absence of vitality and culture in the story, particularly in the dull, uncivilized environment of the prairie homestead. Georgiana arrives from Nebraska wearing a duster “black with soot” and a “black bonnet grey with dust” from her nightmarish train journey. This signifies the ways in which the toil of life on the homestead appears to have seeped into her very being, changing her so drastically that she is at first unrecognizable to Clark. She also appears at the concert in an unfashionable black dress, which Clark initially thinks must make her feel uncomfortable and separate from the rest of the more cultured audience. Indeed, Georgiana is struck by other women’s blur of dresses—“the color of bodices past counting … red, mauve, pink, blue, lilac, purple, ecru, rose, yellow, cream, and white, all the colors that an impressionist finds in a sunlit landscape.” She “regarded them as though they had been so many daubs of tube-paint on a palette,” implicitly associating them both with art—a source of beauty and vitality for both Georgiana and Clark—and a life as of yet unformed; unlike Georgiana, who has chosen (and may regret) her path, these “daubs of paint” could still become anything. In contrast, each time the homestead is described, it is dark, drab, and unvarying: “the tall, naked house on the prairie, black and grim … the black pond,” with no other noteworthy color attributed to the scene: “cattle-tracked bluffs … weather-curled boards … gaunt, molting turkeys.” Such a lack of color instills the homestead with a distinct air of drudgery and despair, suggesting it as a place that smothers vibrancy and hope for anything more.
Black Quotes in A Wagner Matinée
The matinée audience was made up chiefly of women. One lost the contour of faces and figures, indeed any effect of line whatever, and there was only the colour of bodices past counting … red, mauve, pink, blue, lilac, purple, écru, rose, yellow, cream, and white, all the colours that an impressionist finds in a sunlit landscape, with here and there the dead shadow of a frock coat. My Aunt Georgiana regarded them as though they had been so many daubs of tube-paint on a palette.
She preserved this utter immobility throughout the number from The Flying Dutchman, though her fingers worked mechanically upon her black dress, as if, of themselves, they were recalling the piano score they had once played. Poor hands! They had been stretched and twisted into mere tentacles to hold and lift and knead with;—on one of them a thin, worn band that had once been a wedding ring. As I pressed and gently quieted one of those groping hands, I remembered with quivering eyelids their services for me in other days.
I spoke to my aunt. She burst into tears and sobbed pleadingly. “I don’t want to go, Clark, I don’t want to go!”
I understood. For her, just outside the concert hall, lay the black pond with the cattle-tracked bluffs; the tall, unpainted house, with weather-curled boards, naked as a tower; the crook-backed ash seedlings where the dish-cloths hung to dry; the gaunt, moulting turkeys picking up refuse about the kitchen door.