Word Analysis: Shade

While Caleb watches over his injured mother, he notes that it would not be “difficult to keep from sleeping” because “everything was painted in the shades of killers” (Scott). The word “shades” in particular is wrought with meaning. “Shade” often has to do with color, for example, when someone says “I like this shade of blue more than that one” (Webster). Considering the fact that the author makes a reference to painting, it is likely that he merely aims to perpetuate the metaphor that the night was like a piece of art. This is significant because it gives the scene a sense of fantasy. A painting depicting his experience would do Caleb much less emotional damage than experiencing the event itself. Imagining the night as a work of art helps him stay focused in such a trying time.

“Shade” is a word commonly used in ancient mythology to describe spirits of the dead or “gone” (Webster). In Book VI of the Aeneid, Aeneas encounters the “umbrae” or “shades” of many important people in the underworld (Virgil). The fact that Scott uses the word “shades” instead of “hues” or “colors” gives this word another more ominous meaning. It represents the ghosts or “shades” of Caleb’s recently deceased family members and the essence of the killers themselves. Caleb is haunted by the imagined presence of his family for the rest of the novel, thinking of his siblings and father often, and even wearing their clothes. It is at this moment, when Scott firsts addresses them, that their presence becomes apparent.

Works Cited

  1. “Shade.” Def. 8a. Merriam Webster Online, Merriam Webster, n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2015
  2. “Shade.” Def. 5a. Merraim Webster Online, Merriam Webster, n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2015
  3. Scott, James. The Kept. New York City: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014. Print. 16.
  4. The Aeneid. “Book 5”, Trans Fagles, Robert. PDF. 9 Sept. 2015

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