Ghosts by Paul Auster: Example of Color Symbolism in American Literature

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Ghosts is a story written by Paul Auster. The story is taken from the book “The New York Trilogy”. All the story happens in the New York. There are some characters in the story but the main character is named Blue. All the characters name of the story are based on colors. The writer chooses the colors name for the characters rather than any other name. It is a mystery novel. The mystery in the story takes place on higher levels in some parts of the story.

From the beginning, it is a little bit confusing. Like in the starting of the story Auster writes about the place in New York and the time is present(Auster,251). Later in the story, he describes that it is February 3, 1947. The same date as his birthday. In my point of view, Auster uses colors for the name of the characters in the story as these colors match with the personality of the characters.

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Colors are seen all around but like Ghosts story colors are characters name, which has hidden the meaning within each name to be able to identify the reasoning behind Auster’s work in Ghosts. Personality for each color has traits, identity for each color has a different persona and metaphor for thinking Auster’s words – gives an idea for analyzing colors for what they say on the book to what colors mean. Colors are also the names for itself. The following paragraphs discuss the colors contribution to the story.

Blue is the main character in the story. The color blue is a symbol of patience, knowledge and calm under pressure. The character Blue is just like this, he is calm, full of patience and knowledgeable. Blue always take things slowly and finding new things to learn more deeply. He is a private detective, hired by a man named White to follow another man named Black. The color white is associated with light and silence.

Moreover, the character White in the story is like a blank side. We do not read much about White in the text of the story and not much participation of his. In the beginning, he made a deal with Blue, that Blue has to keep an eye on Black and give him a weekly report of Black(251). White gives Blue some advance payment for the case and tells Blue the address the of Black. White also rented an apartment for Blue near the apartment of Black. Furthermore, the color black is a color of dark, evil and mystery. Blue said about Black that “ there is a vague shadow by the name of Black”(268).

The character Black is always reading a book and is writing something in his book. Also as we read the story that one day when the day remained dark and there was endless snow Black appears to be no more than a shadow. That means Black's personality is matched with the color black as it is dark. What's more, the color brown is friendly, loyal, trustworthy and gives one a sense of calmness. The character Brown in the story is boss of the Blue. When Brown retired from his job then Blue took his place. Brown teaches the Blue a lot of things which are important for a detective. Blue did many small while working with Brown. Once Blue writes a letter to Brown for advice about the case, he is on working. Blue knows that Brown is the only person with whom he will discussing the case and Brown is trustworthy.

Next, the Gray case on which the Blue and Brown worked together. The color gray is an emotionless color that is typically associated with the meaning of dull. In the Gray case, the character Gray had been missing for over a year and his wife was ready to believe that he is dead(260). One day Blue found Gray but Gray introduce himself as Green. Blue took Gray back to his wife. Gray has no emotion for her and did not remember her. After a few days, Gray to his wife for marriage and his wife also starts to call herself Mrs. Green.

The color green is associated with the meaning of freshness and harmony. Now Mr. and Mrs. Green starts their new fresh life and lives happily. Besides this, the color gold is a cousin to the color brown and associated with love, passion, and courage. Once Blue read a short article in the magazine. It is about a little boy, murdered by someone. The police did not find any clue in the case. The man named Gold is trying to find the murderer and wants to solve the case. The character Gold is totally a stranger to the little boy but Gold is lovable and passionate to solve the case. He is ready for the sacrificing his own life for it(265).

Gold is like the character Brown who has the courage to work on cases without thinks about himself. Apart from this, the color violet is often associated with nobility, ambition, peace, and extravagance. The character Violet in the story is the very passionate story the colors. He simply attracts, everyone. He is an attractive and loveable character in the story. He lives in peace and we do not get much information about him in the text.

Additionally, everyone has an identity but it will change because of time and different types of situations in the life. Firstly, talking about the character Blue. Blue us a character who always passionate about solving the cases. He always wants to solve different cases. So that he deeply knows the world. Moreover, the mind of Blue is working all the time in the text of Ghosts. He always starts to think his own views and trying to guess what will happen next. Blue has trained as a detective by Brown. In the beginning, when Blue agrees to do work for White and follow the man named Black. He thinks that the case is so simple. He starts to do work on his case. Every week he made a report on a Black's schedule and mail this report to White.

Later the things are changed and he feels that the case has nothing to do and it is a boring case. The man Black has to do nothing special in his life. Blue always notice Black reading a book and writing some on the book. Blue does not understand what will he do in the case. Blue thinks that the case will go on for years(253). When Blue asks from White that how long the case will be is then White replied that he does not know(252). Days passed, months passed but Blue did not find anything extraordinary about the Black. He continues sending the reports to White and hopes that White will give some response.

Blue is curious to see what Black always writes in a book but he cannot able to see as Black he far from him. He trying to see with binoculars but he failed. Blue felt ashamed as this happened to him. The first time that he cannot find something different about his case as a detective. As the time passes, the identity of Blue has been changed. White's lack of feedback on Blue's weekly report annoys him a lot.

One day, after mail Blue, is waiting for someone comes and pick the reports. Suddenly a man wearing a monstrous mask enters and pick up the reports. When he sees Blue he rushes out and gets on a bus. Blue was not able to see the face of man. After that, the Blue’s paycheck comes in the mail. There is a message attached says ‘No more funny business’(Penteado,44). Then Blue try to guess again that if the man comes to pick the reports is White then why he covers his face and if he is not then who was the man. These all things made him crazy. He thinks its difficult for one man on another man all the time. Blue has no time for his own life and he is feeling the case is boring which have nothing to do. He becomes a man who hates himself as he does not know how the rest of his life passes.

Along with Blue, Black’s identity is also changed by the time. In the begging of the story, Black looks like a man who has a boring schedule and spends most of his time in writing. No visitors come to his house, he never meets a lot of people and he is not interested in making new friends. He spends most of his time in his room and sometimes he goes out for grocery and some very essential works. Later in the story, when disguises himself as an old man named Jimmy Rose, who is a beggar. Jimmy means Blue stood the place where he knows that Black would definitely come. After some time, Black comes there. Blue starts to do little conversation with Black and Black after their talk finished told him that he is looking like Walt Whiteman. Blue answers that who is Walt? (Auster,322).

Then the talk will continue for a long time Black telling Blue the stories of Walt Whiteman, Thoreau and about Hawthorne. After finishing their conversations, Blue thinks that the identity of Black is changed now as he talks a lot with a strange man. Blue does not make any remarks about his conversation with Black in his report. The situation for both Blue and Black feels more real than the real, and that is how the real is abolished(Simulacra and Simulation, 55). The thoughts about Black is changing now in the mind of Blue and he wants to do friendship with Black. For this purpose, he goes to the Black’s house but after seeing Black he is scared because of Black wearing the same monstrous mask as the man wearing before. Black has a gun in his hand and he says to Blue that he will kill him. Blue does not understand how he betrayed to recognize the identity of Black. He thinks that Black is an evil man.

In conclusion, the story ends with a climax. Blue enters Black’s apartment for doing friendship with him, but he returns back to his room after killing Black. Blue takes many risks for talking to Black on several occasions to know about Black deeply and trying to make sense in the case. We can say that the Blue id the saddest character in the story. He becomes the prisoner of the case. Auster uses the name of the color as the names of the charters because colors are also the names.

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