Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

by Gordon Dahlquist

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Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:47 am

Let’s talk about Dahlquist’s use of color.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby trygirl » Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:11 pm

I wondered when we would get to this question. Dahlquist uses color throughout the book, both as a description device but also as a part of each character's identity. There's Cardinal Chang with his red leather coat. The garment soon becomes a part of his person, an emblem almost. Not only does Chang wear a red coat, but Rosamonde is first described by Miss Temple as "the lady in red." And the Dragoons wear red uniforms.

There's Miss Temple and her green dress, undergarments, and shoes. In fact, Rosamonde describes Isobel Hastings to Chang as wearing green boots. It's one of the only things she knows about her. And throughout the story she is associated with the color green. Also you could say that Miss Temple is "green with envy" at everyone else's bravery in the story. She wants to be more like Chang, Dr. Svenson, and even Rosamonde...unafraid and not crying in some corner.

He also uses color to identify other villains in the book. Chang refers to Major Blach as Major Black and the officer, and his troops, wear black uniforms. Rosamonde, or the Contessa, is always bathed in color such as violet or purple, amber, yellow, etc. There's the Orange Canal, the home of Harschmort. And let's not forget the blue glass books made of indigo blue clay. I also like the fact that Rosamonde's old assistant is named Mr. Gray. But this is just a small taste of how color is used in the story.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby ladylinn » Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:16 pm

Interesting that Dalhquist uses so many colors and associates them with the characters in the book. Red is a strong and adsertive color (Chang & Dragoons). Also sometimes thought of being an angry hostile color. Chang calling Mj. Blach Mj. Black seeming to imply sinister or evil. Miss Temple and her green dress and boots implied young and carefree to my thinking. Contessa's violet and purple told me of secrets and cunning. Harchmont's orange canal - can only think of warning, caution and danger (road signs are orange). Blue is the most significant color. Blue can be warm and inviting - soft and aluring. As a blue sky darkens it can mean a violent storm is coming. There definately was one coming. An ice blue color is chilling and deadly as shown in the process. Other than the color blue, I never really connected the characters with their own color. Made me go back and think about how colors were used in the book as I didn't make the association before. It brought out more from the book for me to enjoy.

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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:14 pm

I agree with what trygirl and ladylinn have said. Trygirl, I like your use of the word emblem. Green seemed to be Miss Temple’s "emblem" as was Chang’s red. I hadn’t thought of green as in envy. Good point. Orange as a warning sign is a good catch, too, ladylinn.

My feeling about the use of blue: As each person looked into a glass book or card I got the feeling that they were looking into the reflecting water of a lake, pond or wishing well. For me, the glass books had a liquid quality to them…..as if one is drowning. And I associate bodies of water with blue. And it was true that the glass books reflected the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby trygirl » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:49 pm

Liz wrote:I agree with what trygirl and ladylinn have said. Trygirl, I like your use of the word emblem. Green seemed to be Miss Temple’s "emblem" as was Chang’s red. I hadn’t thought of green as in envy. Good point. Orange as a warning sign is a good catch, too, ladylinn.

My feeling about the use of blue: As each person looked into a glass book or card I got the feeling that they were looking into the reflecting water of a lake, pond or wishing well. For me, the glass books had a liquid quality to them…..as if one is drowning. And I associate bodies of water with blue. And it was true that the glass books reflected the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others.


I agree, Liz. I also thought the blue books were a great symbol for reflection and water. The blue also represents something cold like ice. The bodies, during the process, take on a shade of blue as if frozen.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby ladylinn » Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:14 pm

Liz and trygirl, I like your thoughts of blue being a liquid or reflection in water or a pool with those who stare into it seem to be drawn. I had not thought of the liquid of the books or cards. It did indeed nearly drown all who looked at them. I agree with both of you. This makes the color blue more intense and controlling.

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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby gemini » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:28 pm

My goodness trygirl, do you have a photographic memory? When I read the question the only thing that popped into my mind was Cardinal and Chang's coat both red. I did remember Miss Temple's green boots but not right away. Then as I started reading your post, every color you mentioned came back to me as you described where they were in the story. Bravo for being so perceptive.
And as ladylinn mentions, the blue glass- how I could not remember to think of the blue glass books..I don't even know.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby trygirl » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:59 pm

gemini wrote:My goodness trygirl, do you have a photographic memory? When I read the question the only thing that popped into my mind was Cardinal and Chang's coat both red. I did remember Miss Temple's green boots but not right away. Then as I started reading your post, every color you mentioned came back to me as you described where they were in the story. Bravo for being so perceptive.
And as ladylinn mentions, the blue glass- how I could not remember to think of the blue glass books..I don't even know.

thank you, gemini. :lol: I wouldn't call it a photographic memory but some things really stuck with me. I noticed the use of color right from the start. And I knew eventually this question would get asked so I was ready.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:38 pm

Dahlquist made much of Chang's red coat and he referred often to the "lady in red" -- those two caught my attention, red being a color of passion. I was certainly aware of the green Miss Temple wore, particularly the boots, but I wasn't sure what it meant. And the blue, of course, was really vivid when it appeared. Thanks for all your answers that have shed some light on these colors.

I wonder if anyone can interpret white in the story? Much was made of the white feathered masks and robes in the first part of the story.

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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:26 pm

Ooooh...ooooh...ooooh...me! me! me! :wave: :lol:

First of all let me say that everyones' answers to this question are amazing and very insightful. While I had associated colors with some of the characters I had not picked up on many of the correlations you all have brought up like the red and black of the differing forces and how they work with the main characters and the secondary characters like the Dragoons, the Cabal members, etc.. :cool: I did find the blue to be evocative of water which reminded me of a sort of ripple effect where you stare at a reflection and become lost in thought. I also thought the colors Dahlquist chose for the Contessa were chosen to show her power and status - very unlike what a typical Victorian woman would have been expected to wear.

I thought the white symbolized purity or purification if you will. The white feathered masks of the people attending the party who were being brought into the circle, the white robes of the women undergoing "The Process" is very much a virginal representation - suec this goes along with your responses about the religious ovetones.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby Theresa » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:35 pm

What about Svenson?

Miss Temple and Cardinal Chang are very much associated with their colors, but the only place that I see any kind of color associated with Svenson is in the pale skin and on page 115, his ice-blonde hair. A page or two earlier, it's mentioned that he wore a dark greatcoat with silver buttons...but why didn't Dahlquist give him a distinctive color?

Or did he and I just missed it?

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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:53 pm

Theresa, I want to say that his uniform was blue and black, but I am not sure. I need to go look it up, but must fix dinner first. Maybe someone will have the answer before I return.

And I thought of something earlier this evening.....green can refer to being inexperienced, which would refer to our debauched virgin. Nebraska, I was hoping someone would bring up white. I thought of it to be an odd color, considering the process was not exactly pure, in my opinion. However, it appeared that the Cabal was attempting to sell it as such, at times.
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:58 pm

theresa, that is a good point. The only piece of clothing I remember being consistently associated with Svenson was his overcoat and I don't remember the color even though I know it was mentioned several times - dark blue? Hmmm...
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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby Jennak » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:14 pm

I also see in Dahlquist's use of color a continuation of the yin and yang theme. Chang's red and Celeste's green are opposite on the color wheel. Opposite colors are 2 sides of the same coin, in that when you look at green for a long time and blink your eyes...you see red. T.he same is true with orange (canal) and blue (glass).

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Re: Glass Books Question #12 ~ Colors

Unread postby Linda B. » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:41 pm

ladylinn wrote:Contessa's violet and purple told me of secrets and cunning.


In the past purple was also associated with Royalty & insanity. I thought that was very telling for the Contessa.
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