The Color Blue
Blue symbolizes the various stages of Granny Weatherall’s life. The color is first introduced when Granny recalls her glory days of running a tidy, organized household. She visualizes the neatness of the white jars labeled in blue letters that identify their contents, such as coffee, tea, and sugar. This blue symbolizes the time at which Granny’s youthful energy enabled her to act as head of the household. The blue letters on the white jars suggest order, just as at this stage of her life Granny was able to impose order. Blue recurs when Granny remembers the way her children watched her light the lamps at night, leaving her once the flame “settle[d] in a blue curve.” This blue symbolizes the transitional moment in Granny’s life during which her children, after drawing comfort from her strength, stopped needing her and were able to go off into the world on their own.
As Granny looks back on the way she was jilted and exhorts herself to be strong, “streamers of blue-gray light” fall on her eyes, frustrating her and making her worry that she will have nightmares. These bands of light stand for the stage in Granny’s life when trouble poured down on her against her will. A hidden blue exists underneath a picture of John: a photographer made Granny’s husband’s eyes black, instead of the blue they were in real life. Granny agrees that the picture is attractive but says it doesn’t depict her husband. This blue-turned-black symbolizes a stage in Granny’s life that seemed to last for the duration of her marriage, during which she felt, despite her contentment, that she was married to the wrong man, instead of the one who was originally meant to be her husband. As Granny lies in bed, she thinks about the foolishness of Cornelia’s lampshades, which turn the light blue. This time, blue suggests the point in Granny’s life at which the world has passed her by. At last, blue becomes the color of the light in Granny’s own mind, the light she snuffs out herself. It comes to symbolize the final stage of Granny’s life, when she is easing into death.