86 pages 2 hours read

T. J. Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2020

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Symbols & Motifs


Klune uses color and the lack of it to emphasize emotional states. The earliest significant use is Linus’s “don’t you wish you were here?” mousepad, which provides a small square of vivid color that interrupts his otherwise gray, miserable existence. Linus longs for color, as is evidenced by the beach scene and by the sunflowers he’s planted outside of his home, which he describes to Phee as “a bit of color in all the gray of steel and rain” (194). The gray of Linus’s city environment echoes the dreary, colorless misery of his day-to-day life. Once he escapes it and breaks through the rain and into the countryside, his life is full of marvelous color.

The color orange also plays a key role in the novel. In his dreary city life, Linus feels obliged to apologize for a faint orange stain on his shirt—a minor but noteworthy sign of deviance in an environment driven by staid rules and strict regulations. On Marsyas, that same color appears to indicate that Arthur is present and that he is a magical being himself, even before Linus learns this to be true.

The color of the island is a metaphor for the joylessness of Linus’s city life.